In the early days of January 2018, between the watershed December 2017 ANC elective conference at Nasrec and Cyril Ramaphosa’s assumption of the presidency in February, the rand unexpectedly spiked more than 1% against the dollar. Traders had picked up something before anyone else: Zuma had fallen.

But what had actually happened, alas, was that Elon Musk’s latest satellite launch — a mission coded Zuma, for reasons that are not recorded — had ended in failure. News-scanning algorithms had erroneously interpreted the event as a premature end to the presidency of the mission’s namesake...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now