Letter: Changing act would set precedent - The Citizen

28 June 2021 - There is now compelling evidence that the Expropriation without Compensation agenda will not stop at land. Financial assets, such as pension funds and medical aid reserves, are almost certain to be targeted to cover the growing gap between the state’s ideological and patronage imperatives and its fiscal envelope.

There is now compelling evidence that the Expropriation without Compensation agenda will not stop at land. Financial assets, such as pension funds and medical aid reserves, are almost certain to be targeted to cover the growing gap between the state’s ideological and patronage imperatives and its fiscal envelope.

Another area to watch is the Firearms Control Act amendment. This is not (as some would have it) because the seizure of guns is meant to eliminate the possibility of warding off state oppression. Rather, the amendment has more mundane but more significant implications for property rights, in that it effectively bans firearm collecting.

Collecting is recognised worldwide as a valuable contributor to the protection of a country’s heritage. Under current laws, South African collectors must comply with rigorous accreditation, acquisition and storage requirements. Firearm collections can be worth many millions in monetary terms, and be priceless in the historical and scientific value they embody.

If passed in its current form, the FCA amendment would require that these all be surrendered or disposed of. The damage in financial terms alone – not to mention the cultural vandalism of tossing them into a furnace – would be incalculable. This will likely end up in court. Interestingly, the FCA already includes a no-compensation provision, but a reasonable argument could be made that this was never envisaged for lawfully obtained and lovingly preserved collectors’ pieces that represent a substantial monetary and scholarly investment.

With the Constitutional Amendment and Expropriation Bill as they are, such a challenge would be difficult. The state's rights to confiscate property would simply be too deeply entrenched.

Some may cheer at the prospect of ‘fewer guns’, even if they are historic museum pieces,  but this is exactly the type of precedent that can and will be rolled out onto other forms of property.

Terence Corrigan

Project manager, institute of Race Relations

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