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Does the post-Zuma ANC want to restore the past or build a different future? Two themes in the state of the nation address suggest that the new leadership is focused on taking the country back to the past, not moving it forward. Taking SA back to the period before Jacob Zuma is itself progress. Besides the obvious need to prevent public money being used to enrich and empower the connected, this state of the nation address was the first in almost a decade that was serious about tackling the country’s problems. Restoring what existed before Zuma, however, is not nearly enough. The country needs new economic and social paths if economic exclusion and the patronage politics it produces are not to haunt us for decades.The speech’s two invitations to return to the past question whether new directions are on the agenda. The first was the stress on a series of summits to tackle key problems facing the economy. This looks like a step forward: a new direction must be negotiated between the ke...

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