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President Cyril Ramaphosa assured foreign investors at an investment conference hosted by Goldman Sachs that their assets would be safe in SA, despite his commitment to expropriation without compensation (EWC). He is quite correct that asking for investment and then confiscating it is “not something that any sensible person does”. But — irrespective of how EWC is couched — in degrading the protection of property rights, this is precisely the threat. Putting EWC into practice is closer than many realise. Regulations promulgated under the Property Valuation Act give the government a substantial discount on any property acquired for land reform. The Expropriation Bill establishes procedures that are heavily skewed against owners and in favour of the state. Its definition of expropriation would enable the state to confiscate property without this being legally expropriation, and thus exempt from compensation. To invoke the constitution as offering protection — as the president does — i...

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