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It is easy to find examples of destructive interventions by government officials on the incomes and opportunities of South Africans. One such egregious example was provided by a report in Business Times, “The law is killing SA’s small mines”, September 19. The grave damage was to the alluvial diamond mining industry concentrated in the Northern Cape, which has largely collapsed. The appeal was to the regulators to lighten their heavy hand.

My sense is that this appeal is unlikely to get this or any other industry anywhere. The thriving business of regulators is to regulate. Their interest in the outcomes of their regulation seldom extends beyond their own interest in maintaining decent jobs and favourable lifestyles. Any sense of serving some greater national or community interest seems conspicuously absent...

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