It is hard to imagine a sadder piece of public relations than the statement the government issued on Tuesday welcoming the economy’s fourth-quarter growth.

A figure of 0.1% is not growth. It is basically zero. Nor does it reflect the “gradual economic recovery” or the resilience of which minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni speaks in the statement. That she finds it “particularly encouraging” that the fourth quarter surpassed pre-pandemic levels is also sad: GDP has fallen from its post-Covid peak in the fourth quarter of 2022, so we have squandered even the recovery we had managed to achieve...

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