Opinion: New Bill a ‘wasted opportunity for true transformation’

Opinion: New Bill a ‘wasted opportunity for true transformation’

MAIN IMAGE: Jan le Roux, CE of Rebosa.

With the new Property Practitioners Bill firmly on route to being signed into law by the President, Jan le Roux, CE of industry body Rebosa, writes government ‘missed’ their opportunity to make entry into the industry easier for new black estate agents.

Here follows his letter:

Many politicians and government officials have lauded the Property Practitioners Bill as the epitome of transformation legislation and I assume the intensity of these statements will increase towards the upcoming general election.

This is unfortunate as the Bill is neither an example of good legislation, nor will it meet the government’s expectations in being an instrument for transformation.

Until 1976, there was no Act of Parliament regulating the industry. In that year, an Act that was far from perfect was promulgated, and has been in effect since.

A unique opportunity now existed for the democratic government to take a fresh look at the property industry and to draft appropriate legislation, taking cognisance of technological advancements etc.

This was not to be.

Our government opted for a second-rate renovation of the old National Party legislation. The motivation is clearly political as the National Assembly passed the (“Bill”) on 4 December 2018, after which it was sent to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for consideration.

The NCOP, (as did the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements before), also held public hearings in every province – two to three locations per province. Every province deliberated on the Bill and the whole process came to culmination at 15h00 on Monday, 25 March 2019, when said Bill was approved by the NCOP without changing anything. This despite more than 100 outstanding issues/challenges/errors raised by Rebosa.

There are two possible conclusions. The National Assembly is a perfect structure as all the people consulted in the provinces, the provincial committees and the NCOP deliberating this, as well as the Department of Human Settlements advising them, could not find grounds to change one comma!

A rubber stamp is not even an apt description.

Or you must deduce that the shortcomings/errors were acknowledged but ignored to the detriment of the industry for the sake of political expediency.

One could fairly ask why there is an NCOP, along with all the expenses that involves, when looking at these facts.

We assume that the insistence on a BEE certificate, the creation of a Transformation Fund and a Property Sector Research Centre give rise to the transformation expectations. Unfortunately, as it now stands, a new black entrant to the market will still face serious challenges in becoming successful and almost impossible challenges to establish his/her own business. This Bill favours big companies that can address compliance issues and is the enemy of start-ups. In this regard it matches the National Party Act point by point and is in fact more onerous.

There still remains the opportunity to approach the President with a request to not sign the Bill in its present format. This, however, offers but little hope in view of the looming 8 May election. Another negative for this approach is the fact that should the President not sign this Bill timeously, i.e. before the election, government will have to start the entire process that has taken years, afresh. This is an unlikely outcome.

Industry is therefore most probably going into an uncertain period, with a number of issues which will undoubtedly cause problems going forward.

Of course regulations must be formulated and approved (a demanding process), in order to give effect to the Bill and a guideline of five months to finalise was mentioned/agreed upon at the NCOP meeting.

Therefore, it may well be that the Bill and Regulations could be in place before the end of the year. I think a better guess is the first half of 2020.

As we have continued to do, Rebosa will address all these challenges going forward. It is worthwhile noting that many changes were made to the original draft – most certainly thanks to the efforts of Rebosa amongst others.

Ends.

About the author: Jan le Roux is the founder and chief executive of Real Estate Business Owners of South Africa (Rebosa) – with 16 000 members, one of the most representative industry bodies for the local property industry.

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