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Reading through President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address and the reaction to it — much of it jaundiced despite the commendable recognition and constant reinforcement that the government must create the conditions for the private sector to get on with growing the economy and then get out of its way — I was reminded of an old joke told by one of the last great statesmen, US president Ronald Reagan. Back when politicians told their own jokes and they weren’t the punchline. 

It was one of Reagan’s favourite jokes about a Russian man who wanted to buy a car. Back then not many Russian families owned cars. The Trabant was an awful car made by the communist state. The man goes to the official agency, puts down his money and is told he can take delivery of his automobile in exactly 10 years...

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