President Cyril Ramaphosa's state of the nation address on Thursday night ought to be a mix of pomp, celebration and reflection on the sixth administration’s priorities for the year. His job couldn’t be clearer: he needs to use the occasion to urgently resolve the crisis facing this nation’s economy. At the heart of the problem lies a lack of confidence.

The address is taking place against a depressing backdrop that should focus the administration’s mind. The economy, which has been flirting with technical recessions over the last decade, has recently contracted by more than 3% and is not creating jobs, especially for the millions of SA’s youth. Falling tax revenues are threatening the sustainability of social grants, which are the only source of livelihood for the bulk of the 17-million who receive them each month...

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