As 2017 draws to a close, indicators of unemployment and poverty, which have been stuck at worrisome levels for years, are once again on the rise. This constitutes the biggest threat to SA’s future. Economic growth has been slowing since 2011 and the economy has become stuck in a low-growth rut. Much of this is the result of conflict within the ANC about what drives growth and the inability of its leaders to resist the populist streak within the organisation.This explains SA’s policy confusion and inertia. Failing state capacity (eroded by cadre deployment and endemic corruption) has also played a role. This is why the National Development Plan never stood a chance. In fact, the chief binding constraints holding back the economy that were identified by the government in 2006 — the lack of a cost-effective logistics system, a lack of competition, the regulatory burden on small business and deficiencies in state capacity and leadership — are all as binding now, if not more so, than th...

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