Hon Chairperson and hon Minister, it is appropriate that we debate these specific amendments in this Bill whilst celebrating 20 years of democracy. I still remember the day when the hon Gamede, the chairperson of our committee, had a discussion with me and asked why there could be amnesty for people who killed each other during the struggle but we can't have amnesty for people who defaulted on credit agreements. It seems like yesterday.
Today we are here in this Council and at the core of this whole debate is a critical question. This critical question is: What type of a society are we building 20 years after democracy? The challenge remains: Do we have a strong sustainable middle class? But we know the realities. The realities are that we tend to taunt the poor and the marginalised. We need to address that.
In the context of this, a certain James Taylor once said, and I quote:
People should watch out for three things: avoid a major addiction, ...
How can I say this? To me it sounds like the DA has an addiction to opposing everything these days! [Laughter.]
... don't get so deeply into debt that it controls your life, and don't start a family before you are ready to settle down.
The unfortunate reality is that all three the issues that Taylor warned society about have become issues that modern-day society must deal with.
Worst of all, in my opinion, and of relevance to today's debate, is overindebtedness. We have come a long way since the National Credit Act came into operation. This Act, however, did not suffice and implementation challenges necessitated amendments to it.
We knew the results of the review process. It indicated that South Africa is a role model in terms of credit regulation. The National Credit Act has had a significant impact on the curbing of reckless lending. There were a number of issues that it referred to and one of them is education.
Let me say that it is shocking to see how far advertisements go to lure consumers into credit and credit agreements. Let me perhaps refer to one - and unfortunately this is an advertisement for a bank. It says if you need a loan and you earn R1 000 a month, the bank can suggest that you qualify for a loan of up to R300 000. These types of advertisements are certainly irresponsible and do not serve the cause that we want to achieve.
I want to conclude by saying that South Africa, as a developing country and as a society in transformation, needs to reform the credit industry. More than that, the government had an obligation to intervene and improve the regulatory environment governing the industry.
We all know horrific stories. I hope that this piece of legislation and the amendments will get us to the point where we can make sure that we can create a middle class that is sustainable in the modern South Africa. I thank you. [Applause.]