Economic development minister Ebrahim Patel’s star appears to be rising in the Ramaphosa government. But the president’s unequivocal stance on rooting out corruption is at odds with Patel’s softly-softly approach to what appears to be an entrenched patronage network in the Competition Commission. Patel looks to have Ramaphosa’s ear, judging from the starring role he was given in co-ordinating the investment summit last month and the fact that Ramaphosa’s economic recovery plan includes a special carve-out for the clothing and textile industry — a special interest of Patel’s, who led the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union for 10 years from 1999-2009. To get growth going, Ramaphosa is relying on a range of interventions. Among them is the idea that lowering barriers to entry through increased competition will stimulate small business growth, especially that of black businesses, helping to transform and grow the economy at the same time. The main vehicle through which...

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