Hilary Joffe Columnist

This was the year of the reality check. We began 2019 with forecasts that economic growth would lift to 1.7% and a state of the nation speech in which President Cyril Ramaphosa promised long-awaited reforms to boost the economy and fix ailing state-owned enterprises, especially Eskom. We have ended the year flirting with recession and stage 6 load-shedding - to the "surprise and shock" of Ramaphosa, whose economic reforms have been delivered excruciatingly slowly, if at all.

The latest GDP figures showed the economy turned negative in the third quarter; a week or more of load-shedding could see that repeated in the fourth quarter, and it's now possible the full-year 2019 number will be negative - for the first time since 2009. SA had become a 1% economy over the past five years. Now it's falling even below that; 2019 has driven home just how stuck we are in the low-growth trap and how hard it's proving to get out of it, despite oft-repeated promises of reform.

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