President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the ANC has decided to amend the property clause, section 25 of the constitution, to clarify in what circumstances expropriation without compensation (EWC) will be allowed, has rattled many. The fact that his announcement was made on national TV close to midnight adds to the dodgy perception. But is the outcry justified? Is it possible that it’s an overreaction, and that there is an alternative way to interpret his decision? Last week, I was giving a guest lecture in the law of delict at Stellenbosch University when a student asked my view on the decision. I confessed that my first reaction was shock and condemnation, as Ramaphosa was pre-empting the findings of the public consultations around the issue. I felt it rendered that consultative process a ruse. My initial reaction was not dissimilar from Hem in Spencer Johnson’s book Who Moved My Cheese, who, after seeing the cheese disappear from its usual place, complained: "Who moved my ch...

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