Where would SA be now had Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma become ANC president in December 2017? It’s impossible to say, of course, but I’d hazard two guesses. The first is that major creditors would have refused to roll over the debt of state-owned enterprises and that the country would be bankrupt. The second is that Cyril Ramaphosa would be leader of an opposition alliance poised to win next Wednesday’s election. Counterfactuals are cheap, I know. The actual future always surprises us, for reality is stranger that anything our imaginations can conjure. It is equally conceivable that in the face of economic meltdown the thugs let loose by a Dlamini-Zuma presidency would have declared a state of emergency, thrown Ramaphosa in prison and postponed the election indefinitely. SA would have crossed a threshold from which it is hard to return. Those who could leave would have; everyone else would have had to fend for themselves. Nonetheless, it is sometimes fruitful to dream of the good things ...

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