The neon-lit auditorium of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent investment conference — where business leaders leant into the reflected glory of the Springbok’s World Cup win and promised to invest in SA — is worlds away from the stream of depressing economic data published in its wake.

Business confidence levels have barely crawled back from 20-year lows, and the SA Reserve Bank’s leading indicator suggests growth in the next 12 months will not improve dramatically. High-frequency data for manufacturing, mining and the retail sector in recent weeks have all underwhelmed...

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