Sheer luck can shape a country’s fortunes. When exactly in the global economic cycle it is dealt a bad president can determine its fate for generations. In this spirit, I have been wondering whether SA was lucky or unlucky to get Jacob Zuma when it did.

To a certain extent, the level of GDP growth in SA during the democratic era has been beyond the country’s control. Save for civil war or some other catastrophe, SA was always going to grow healthily during the first decade of the 21st century. The commodities super cycle guaranteed it. And growth was always going to slow, no matter who was in charge, in the second decade of the century. No other nonfuel commodity exporter in Africa or Latin America did well in this period, and unless one believes in miracles SA could not have done much better than it did...

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