The big question after the surge in the third-quarter growth rate is whether sufficient spadework has been done to generate an economic revival in the new year. The evidence remains tentative — and there are major obstacles President Cyril Ramaphosa must overcome — but should he do so successfully South Africans could have more to smile about in 2019. The economic data is beginning to firm up. For instance, the Absa manufacturing PMI rose to 49.5 in November from 42.4 in October, with four out of the five main subcomponents rising. This was the first increase in the index after three months of declines. Granted, business confidence deteriorated marginally in the fourth quarter but if it wasn’t for the unusually large drop in car dealers’ confidence, the index would have risen for the first time in almost a year, since confidence improved in three out of the five sectors surveyed. SA’s currency and assets are also looking cheap and certainly more attractive than many other emerging m...

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