Let’s not beat about the bush: securing R363bn in fixed investment at the second SA Investment Conference last week, on top of R300bn pledged last year, is a major achievement by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Much scepticism greeted the pledges at last year’s event, but Ramaphosa says R238bn worth of those projects (nearly 80% by value) have either been completed or are under construction.The pledges have mostly turned out to be real, not spin doctoring. And yet, there are some things that don’t quite add up. Such as why, if the investment pledged in 2018 has mostly begun, are SA’s 2019 fixed investment numbers still so weak?Of course, most of the pledges span five years, which would dilute their annual impact. But it also seems likely that some of the listed projects may not be new, expansionary investment, but maintenance investment that would have happened anyway. (In a normal year, the SA private sector invests about R600bn and the public sector R280bn.)It is also probable that the...

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