Eighty years ago this week, Germany’s invasion of Poland triggered the outbreak of a world war. A year earlier, Neville Chamberlain had famously brandished a piece of paper whose promise quickly unravelled. Coincidentally, long before the outbreak of the war, Britain had prepared its citizens for the blackouts that would become a permanent feature of the ensuing war.

The parallels between pieces of paper that offer promises that quickly suffer betrayal, blackouts and ambitious politicians hold particular relevance for SA today. Finance minister Tito Mboweni recently released a paper that seeks to break the perpetual logjam surrounding the question of how to fix the country’s economy. Its mixture of well-known proposals and ambitious ideals has ignited debate across the social and political spectrum.

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