History will record that it was on the very week of the fifth anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s death — the tail end of yearlong activities marking his centenary — that parliament decided to begin the process to emasculate perhaps his most shining and enduring legacy: the South African constitution. The timing was apposite.

To say MPs were dancing on Mandela’s grave is perhaps putting it too strongly, but the timing was almost unreal.

The decision to fiddle with the constitution in order to allow for expropriation of land or property without any recourse to lawful means will be no simple or straightforward amendment.

It almost feels like a violation of a sacred text. It is a momentous decision that’ll tinker with the very essence of society, and will fundamentally change the order of things.

Which is obviously what is intended, but where that takes us as a nation, nobody has a clue. Scary.

The adoption of the report by the joint constitutional review committee recommending the amendment of section 25 of the constitution was greeted by scenes of jubilation and bravado by victorious MPs. That’s probably understandable. The approval, though by no means the final say on the matter, is a culmination of a long-running campaign that has sharply divided society and, unfortunately, worsened race relations. It included barefaced lies and emotive language aimed at discrediting the 1994 accord that ushered in the new dispensation. That settlement was rubbished as having sold black people down the river, and leaders such as Mandela and his comrades who were instrumental in negotiating its creation were dismissed as Uncle Toms or lackeys of white interests. Bell Pottinger, it seems, has been worth its weight in gold. But the stuff that was peddled, though untrue, found fertile ground because, for the black majority the new democracy, other than giving them the right to vote, has ye...

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