On Thursday, SA’s social partners — sections of organised labour, business, the government and community groups — will meet in Midrand in the first of three presidential summits to tackle unemployment, poverty and inequality. This is President Cyril Ramaphosa’s first test of whether he can deal with the ruinous legacy of the past nine years, during which corruption, unemployment, inequality and poverty grew exponentially. The summit will focus on jobs, while the next one — due later this month — will focus on his ambitious plan to attract $100bn in foreign direct investment to SA over the next five years. Of the two, the jobs summit is the trickiest in which to achieve measurable success, and where expectations of concrete outcomes have to be tempered. A week ago, Cosatu, the union federation that is aligned to the governing ANC, complained that the jobs summit might turn out to be a damp squib because the government has been sending junior delegations. That’s true, but it’s not the...

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