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After failing to be excited about President Cyril Ramaphosa’s fourth SA Investment Conference last week, someone was bound to say my column that appeared here on the day of the gathering was “negative”. In fact, it happened on the page opposite the very next edition, in an article that must have been written during the conference itself, by one of its participants.

The author, Isaah Mhlanga, is chief economist at Alexander Forbes, and a good one. But even he struggled to make a credible point. My column, he wrote, fell into the trap of not seeing the wood for the trees. Discovery’s Adrian Gore, he wrote, “made the point that the prevailing narrative about SA is too negative and could mean missed opportunities”. There is real progress in SA, he said. Not holding the conference would be like holding a fashion show at home. “No-one would know, and no-one would care.”..

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