President Cyril Ramaphosa’s package of economic recovery measures, announced on Sunday night, gives just enough relief to tide the economy over the immediate crisis caused by the recent looting and unrest. But, crucially, Ramaphosa resisted calls to introduce a permanent basic income grant (BIG) or throw fiscal sustainability overboard.

Given the economic devastation caused by the unrest — some measures put it at north of R50bn — Ramaphosa had come under pressure to sanction unbridled fiscal spending, to show that his government is still in touch with the suffering of the people after its bungling in recent weeks. Fortunately, he resisted...

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