The last time SA fell into recession, in 2009, it was because of the global financial crisis. This time around, economists and business executives agree, the cause is a person: the president. Jacob Zuma’s erratic political moves are breeding policy uncertainty and reluctance to invest, helping explain why the economy of the continent’s most industrialised nation contracted for a second straight quarter in the three months to end-March. Finance, property and business services shrank for the first time since the second quarter of 2009. Business confidence has yet to recover after falling to a more than three-decade low in September and the rand has been the world’s most volatile currency in the past year. All the while, Zuma was waging a battle with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan over how to manage the economy—until he fired him. Companies across industries say the political and economic instability is cutting sales, hurting profit forecasts and even inducing consumers to gamble less...

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