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After sliding above R15/$ and flirting with R20 against the pound in early September, the currency had a good month in the end, the best since January when the country  and markets breathed a collective sigh of relief after Cyril Ramaphosa’s narrow victory at the ANC conference in December 2018. Of course that didn’t last. The combination of emerging-market jitters, higher oil prices and the trade war between the US and China saw the rand being punished, falling to a 2018 low of R15.69/$. Domestic developments were also key, none more than President Ramaphosa’s ill-advised statement on July 31 that the ANC would seek to change the constitution in order to explicitly allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. There was also bad news on the economy, which slipped into a recession in the first half, the first time that’s happened since the global financial crisis was at its peak nearly a decade ago.

Politicians, predictably, tried to minimise its significance by in...

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