The most charitable reading of the 2021 state of the nation address (Sona) is that the government understands the issues, is shifting in the right direction and is putting clear building blocks in place for a turnaround. The least charitable is that it recycled old promises, downplayed delivery failures and overhyped its own plodding successes.Both views have validity, but on balance President Cyril Ramaphosa probably exceeded the nation’s modest expectations by announcing further energy reforms and extending income and wage support for those hit hardest by the pandemic.However, for business the bottom line is whether the Sona signals the start of a bolder undertaking by the government to lift growth-enhancing reforms out of the bog of bureaucratic inertia. That economists aren’t rushing to revise up their growth forecasts suggests that the speech failed to clear that bar.But how could it? The state’s record of nondelivery has caused scepticism to harden into cynicism. Only when p...

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