Imagine former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste pitching up to present the group’s 2017 financial results along with the restated 2016 and 2015 figures and, before the end of the presentation, blithely informing shareholders that they will have to weigh in with additional billions because the company is in such difficulties. And imagine him presenting this reality as though he had nothing to do with those difficulties. Fortunately, Steinhoff shareholders in such a position would be able to walk away. It’s not so for South African citizens, particularly the poorest who will be most heavily affected by the one percentage point increase in Vat that the ANC’s very own value-destroyer, finance minister Malusi Gigaba, announced on Wednesday. It is only the second increase in Vat since the tax was introduced in 1991. The first was in 1993, just ahead of the country’s first democratic elections. For many establishment economists, the strongest argument for increasing Vat is simply that it hasn’t...

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