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The spread of the Omicron variant, which threatens to cancel the 2021 festive season, heralds a lousy end to a depressing year. In my first column of 2021 I put forward the view that it would be an unhappy year. The year had started on a sour note: the post-Christmas 2020 Covid-19 wave resulted in lockdowns, economic hardship and loss of lives.

Now 2021 is ending as it started, with health scares, Covid-19 tests, travel bans, deep concerns about the domestic economy, exceptionally high unemployment and a heightened sense of insecurity. Stats SA’s announcement on Tuesday of the size of the economic contraction in the third quarter of the year is a befitting end to a horrid 12 months...

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