For South Africans, it has been a bruising year, and yet within the helter-skelter it is just possible to discern the seeds of renewal. The year was bracketed by the dismissal of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan early in the year and the election of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the very end, symbolising the country’s decline and, hopefully, rebound. Between those two events, the country was tossed on stormy seas almost without respite. The key events were the continuing crisis at the South African Social Security Agency about the social grants distribution company Net1, quickly followed by the "Guptaleaks" disclosures, a series of crises and scandals at Eskom, two attempts to remove the president through votes of no confidence in Parliament, a string of court cases on various political issues, and finally the collapse of the share price of retailer Steinhoff. In the region, there was also the soft military coup in Zimbabwe and the ousting of Robert Mugabe. The economic backgro...

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