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In SA’s public discourse, the word "crisis" has taken on an amorphous meaning. But according to the word’s Latin roots, a crisis is a turning point. In that sense, a crisis is the proverbial rock bottom from which the only way is up. In what has become known as "9/12" — the day, exactly a year ago, when President Jacob Zuma fired Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with an unknown backbencher — might go down in history as the date of SA’s post-apartheid crisis in the true sense of the word. This might seem perplexing when one considers the impact of other moments said to have been crises — revelations about the arms deal, the recall of former president Thabo Mbeki and the Marikana massacre, to name a few. But these moments did not trigger a change of trajectory. They were part of several events that suggested the gap between the country envisioned in the Constitution and the country in reality was set to remain, if not widen further. The 9/12 event was different. On that...

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