The outcome of the ANC’s recent extended national executive committee (NEC) meeting is perhaps not as terrible as many analysts and commentators suggest. As much as anything, the meeting was a defeat for the leftist camp of the governing party. Many of those who spoke out against President Jacob Zuma (although not all, by any means, a point that must be emphasised) were members of the South African Communist Party or carried deep leftist sympathies. If the attempted coup had succeeded, it would have amounted to a further left-wing takeover of the governing party, leaving SA in an arguably worse predicament than under Zuma. The president can be accused of many things, but to attribute to him exclusively the parlous state of the economy is a criticism too far. SA’s weak economic performance has far more to do with the long-term consequences of the structural policy mistakes that were made long before he came to office. These mistakes include SA’s counterproductive empowerment policies...

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