It is easy to assume that the recent wave of populism in SA is part of a global historical shift towards extremes of politics on the left and right. The evidence for this global surge is embodied in the rise of Donald Trump (US), Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil), Viktor Orbán (Hungary), Matteo Salvini (Italy), Narendra Modi (India), and Nicholas Maduro (Venezuela).

There are, nonetheless, specific local issues that one can pull at to unravel the tangled mess of current populist political economics in SA. It is only the most ossified of ideologues who would imagine there is a clearly detectable and tidily confined aetiology, and that there is a single solution to this (single) problem.

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