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Is South Africa fast approaching a time that scholars will come to describe as belonging to a "banana republic"? It's just one of the questions we have to bat off as we watch the drama unfold in the political theatre. There's so much to suggest that maybe we are heading into a dire state from which it will be nearly impossible to return. It is all accompanied by a sluggish economy that doesn't have the green shoots to promise an imminent turnaround. But banana republic is not an apt description. The classic definition is of a small country that economically depends on a single export, is politically unstable and dominated by foreign interests, and is led by a dictator or a military ruler. There's a lot in there that doesn't fit our narrative. Our institutions are working well, so the last part is certainly not a possibility, in the short to medium term at least. Bananas aren't the only product we export - there is still a lot to be said about the diversity of the local economy. But ...

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