Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign for the presidency is firming up. Launching his economic plan for SA in Soweto a month before ANC branches vote on who should replace Jacob Zuma, Ramaphosa called for a "New Deal", saying growth and transformation would "not be possible for as long as ... public resources continue to be looted". What’s more, his supporters will be emboldened after the ANC’s Eastern Cape leadership, which backs him, was not scuttled by the party high command, as feared.

Finance minister Malusi Gigaba lost his last shred of fiscal respectability with the resignation this week of Michael Sachs, the head of the budget office in treasury. Such is Sachs’ stature in the markets that with him continuing to preside over the national budget it was possible to maintain the fiction that SA still believed in fiscal consolidation. Gigaba should have refused to accept Sachs’ resignation on the grounds that his going is against the national interest. A ratings downgrade is now almost certain.

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