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The sixth general elections since 1994, which are scheduled for May, could emerge as a swing factor for economic growth this year, while drought and electricity supply challenges also loom large. Growth for 2018 is likely to be 0.7% when the data is released later this quarter, reflecting the six-month recession in the first half of the year. The economy is expected to grow only marginally this year. Annabel Bishop, chief economist at Investec, said: "Political parties are seeking increased leverage in a number of areas including populist policies, racial divisions, property rights and socialism. If the rhetoric becomes disruptive, political uncertainty will increase ahead of the elections, likely further undermining business confidence, and thus growth prospects." Already confidence is looking shaky. A leading gauge of business confidence - the Rand Merchant Bank/Bureau for Economic Research business confidence index - dropped to 34 in the fourth quarter of 2018, indicating possibl...

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