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It is unfortunate that President Cyril Ramaphosa did not use his 17 June announcement of modifications to South Africa’s level 3 lockdown as an opportunity to end the ill-considered ban on tobacco and related products. Appropriately, on the same day, Africa Check confirmed that the government is losing around R35 million per day in excise taxes for tobacco products.
The Copyright Amendment Bill has caused great uncertainty in South African and global artistic and creative markets. The bill has gone through many revisions and attracted widespread criticism. Today, it awaits and has been waiting for President Ramaphosa’s signature for months. But the whole activity must be restarted due to government’s mishandling of the public participation process. If this is not done, the bill will lack the legitimacy that every government policy requires, particularly from the relevant constituency – in this case, innovators.
Legally we have entered unchartered waters that government, perhaps understandably, appears unable to navigate. Practically, the coronavirus regulations cannot be adhered to in a society composed like South Africa’s. In whichever way one approaches the issue, the coronavirus regulations should in large part be set aside and replaced by less restrictive measures to control the pandemic.
The lockdown has begun. Only movement deemed 'essential' is now allowed – a significant limitation if not suspension of our right to freedom of movement guaranteed in section 21 of the Constitution. This opens a can of worms that our constitutional democracy might be ill-equipped to deal with.
Proposed government interference in the pay TV market is a violation of the freedom of contract, which is not only critical in the commercial world, but a fundamental guarantee of individual and community autonomy from the dictates of third parties.
The trade union federation Cosatu recently called for tax increases, particularly on the wealthy, to arrest South Africa’s economic down spiral. But economist Arthur B Laffer, known for popularising the Laffer curve, shows us that beyond a certain point, tax revenue will decline as tax rates increase.
The Rule of Law principle at the heart of South Africa’s constitutional dispensation is there to prohibit arbitrariness from government and demand reasonableness. Government’s plans to bring about expropriation without compensation (EWC), especially as a constitutional amendment, is a good case study of that very arbitrariness our legal system has been set up to combat.
Legislation which governs hate speech must be interpreted in line with the constitutional right to freedom of expression, and anyone who is accused, or who accuses others, of hate speech, must be treated equally without regard to their inborn characteristics.
When seeking care from a hospital or doctor, patients will now be required to present their proof of registration with the National Health Insurance (NHI) Fund to access healthcare services. Registration can be refused. Never before have South Africans’ constitutional right to access to healthcare been so brazenly threatened by a power-hungry government. Civil society must resist the proposed NHI scheme with all its might.
When young Americans grow up, rarely do you hear them being excited about going to study in Europe when they leave school. Why would they be? They have world-class universities and immense opportunities at home. It is not uncommon, however, to speak to young South Africans who are keen to leave this country either for extended periods or indefinitely.