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In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a furious argument developing outside about how to revive the SA economy. Assume the worst. We were in recession and Moody’s Investors Service, the ratings agency, downgraded our debt to junk before the coronavirus struck. Finance minister Tito Mboweni had, a month before, delivered a budget deficit (all tiers of government) forecast of R370bn, or 6.8% of GDP, well above target. He said debt would rise to R3.5-trillion (a trillion is a thousand billion; a billion is a thousand million), or 65.6% of GDP, increasing to 71.6% by April 2023.

Our official rate of unemployment, already one of the highest in the world at 29%, rises to 43% (or by 3.2-million people in 2020) in the worst case of scenarios painted by Miriam Altman, a seasoned economic adviser to the state and former member of the national planning commission...

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