Picture: MICHAEL PINYANA/Daily Dispatch
Picture: MICHAEL PINYANA/Daily Dispatch

Despite some optimistic predictions that the Covid-19 pandemic would compel some economic prudence on the part of the government, parliament’s decision to re-establish the ad hoc committee on amending section 25 of the constitution shows that the established policy agenda is well on track.

The policy of expropriation without compensation is very much alive. And it should not be forgotten that in the run-up to the pandemic the ANC was calling for significant authority over expropriations to be handed to the executive at the expense of the courts.

The prospect of this change should dispel the sort of complacency that caused many observers to shrug off the amendment of the constitution as mere cosmetic political posturing.

What is taking place is extremely serious and will be deeply damaging to SA’s chances for a post-Covid recovery. It also serves to demonstrate that pro-growth “reforms” are highly unlikely. If anything, the past few months have exposed the depth of ideological commitment to underlying policy, and the determination to see it through.

Rather, expect greater ideological and patronage intrusion, with all the costs this will bring. (We have long warned, for example, that the end game for land politics may well be a mass “custodial taking” — a species of nationalisation — of the country’s land.)

Beware also of the precedent for civil liberties set by a successful assault on the bill of rights and the restriction of the courts. With this course set, it falls to businesses, homeowners and all who value SA’s future as a prosperous and free society to decide how to react. Awaiting developments (and repeating “surely, it won’t come to this!”) is no longer an adequate response.

Terence Corrigan
Institute of Race Relations

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