Calling December 4 2018 — when a majority in parliament voted to amend the Bill of Rights to empower the state to expropriate property without compensation — a “historic day” may well be accurate, but anyone with a sense of history will know it’s not necessarily a date to celebrate. After all, June 19 1913 — the commencement of the notorious Land Act, or July 7 1950 — the commencement of the Population Registration Act, were historic too. They signalled chapters of dispossession and oppression. As for December 4 2018, what our legislators did was signal their commitment to empowering the state to take private property. They have declared themselves ready to meddle with the Bill of Rights — even while some acknowledge existing provisions permit land expropriation — and set a sinister precedent for constitutional governance in future. They have in turn engendered ever more uncertainty — acknowledged as an obstacle to economic dynamism in SA — in pursuit of a doubtful policy goal. This...

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