Over the past two weeks many analysts have been talking of a “benign outcome” for next week’s elections. In this outcome, the ANC gets between 45% and 51% of votes cast nationally, easily builds a coalition government with smaller parties and remains in charge of economic policy — and we continue pretty much as we have until now, or even do slightly better. It is a great outcome for jittery capital markets, but a dreadful one for South Africa.

What would South Africa be getting from this “benign” outcome? More of the same sloth, incompetence, lack of focus, corruption and disregard for voters? Last week Stats SA released the latest jobs numbers. Once again the unemployment rate has worsened, rising to 32.9% in the first quarter of this year from 32.1% in the fourth quarter of 2023. We have consistently lost jobs since 2008, when the unemployment rate hovered at about 21%. No-one is outraged now that we are consistently above 32% — and youth unemployment is double that. What...

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