In the darkest depths of the pandemic in 2020, I warned that SA was unlikely to pull out of its fiscal death spiral. We had left it too late to fix the economy, and the pandemic had made everything immeasurably worse.

There were several reasons to believe SA was headed for a debt trap, I said. First, Covid-19 had caused the need for income support to explode at a time when SA’s fiscal position had never been weaker. The emergency Covid social relief of distress (SRD) grant risked becoming permanent. This would cost money the government did not have...

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