South African politics is never dull, but 2017 and the lead-up to the ANC conference in December was particularly complex. While 2018 looks set to be no different at some level (note, for example, the intrigue over the recall of President Jacob Zuma), it is important to recognise that there has been a qualitative shift in our political mood and economic outlook. In a matter of a few weeks Cyril Ramaphosa has shifted the focus from despair to hope — perhaps not yet optimism, but hope at the very least. His actions on a number of fronts — Eskom, the Hawks, the messaging at the World Economic Forum — have created a level of hope and some confidence that we can handle challenges that seemed intractable just a few weeks ago. While hope and confidence are welcome, it is also important not to see Ramaphosa as the messiah who can solve all our problems. The reality is that while a lot can be tackled in the short term, our challenges require a long-term structural shift in the way the econom...

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