In a democracy, the survival of political parties and their leaders turns on praise and blame. When times are good, politicians claim credit for citizens’ happy circumstances to boost their popularity. When times are hard, however, they have to evade blame to survive.

Finance minister Tito Mboweni’s supplementary budget last week indicates that we are entering a new era of blame-centred politics. GDP per capita will probably not return to pre-Covid-19 levels for about a decade — and that’s on relatively optimistic growth assumptions...

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