It is distressing when governments pursue counterproductive policies. It is embarrassing when it is feebly justified. Both impulses were on display in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent performance in parliament “Nothing sinister about nationalising Reserve Bank, says Cyril Ramaphosa”, (March 7). Land expropriation without compensation may not be an attack on investors, but it has shown itself to be an attack on investment. It’s doubtful that anything else in the past year has done as much damage to the country’s prospects as this policy discussion, not least the president’s own endorsement of the idea. “We cannot invite people to invest in our country then say we will expropriate what you invest,” said the president. Yet this is not without precedent, here or internationally. Escalating empowerment demands and custodial takings have already done as much. Proposed legislation — in the security industry, for example — seeks even more. This is not, nor is it likely in the future to be...

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