The further reopening of the economy by President Cyril Ramaphosa has created positivity and optimism for many South Africans, who are desperate for good news. The announcement represents an improvement because tax relief and other announced economic measures were proving useless in the face of the lockdown, with companies not being allowed to open their operations and workers surviving on stipends.

It is easiest, in the short term, to retreat inward, to celebrate imaginary progress and wallow in sentimentality and false optimism. But we need to abandon collective self-delusion and reflect honestly on the state of our economy, because we are in the terminal stage. Long before Covid-19 the sixth democratic dispensation inherited a stagnant economy accompanied by worsening unemployment, inequalities and poverty, manifesting at the macroeconomic level in rising public debt, a bigger budget deficit, higher debt service costs and revenue shortfalls. GDP had been declining since t...

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