SA’s downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service reminds us that the Covid-19 crisis is not the only dread threat that confronts the country. The loss of our last investment-grade rating was probably inevitable, even without a public health emergency, and the factors that have brought it about will remain with us long after the pandemic has subsided.

These are well known — the public sector wage bill, labour market policy, energy supply, mismanaged state-owned enterprises and so on — and have been for years. Policymakers have chosen to ignore them. Indeed, the government has sometimes chosen to exacerbate these problems. It was noteworthy that Moody’s specifically referred to “uncertainty over property rights generated by the planned land reform”...

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