How low can South Africa go? This is the question that haunts the country as it grapples with its worst economic and political crisis since the advent of democracy in 1994. In the search for an answer to this question, the experience of Zimbabwe looms large — and can make for painful comparisons. Could South Africa, a once shining example of democracy and economic growth on a continent beset with problems, go the way of its neighbour, widely regarded as the sick man of the SADC region? On the surface, South Africa's economic and political troubles have some semblance to the problems Zimbabwe faces — but deep complexities lie beneath. Anne Frühauf, senior vice-president of Teneo Intelligence, conceded that there were similarities in the socioeconomic grievances and demands in the two countries, especially to do with economic liberation and redistribution. "However, this does not mean that South Africa's story will necessarily follow the Zimbabwean playbook," she said. South African p...

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