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The formal economy might find it a lot easier to live with a (partly) captured national treasury than many might imagine. This is bad news for people living in poverty who would then lack friends in high places to resist the capturers. In trying to restore calm, after the firing of Finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas, the spin doctors of the governing party, the African National Congress, say the markets will adjust. They point out that the appointment of previous finance ministers also spooked the markets, only to attract something close to hero worship once they settled in. Thus the new minister of finance, Malusi Gigaba, would also come to be loved by the markets. Just about no-one believes them. Their reassurances do not gel with the understanding of everyone opposed to the change and even some who welcome it. The change in minister is widely seen not as the replacement of one politician by another but as the capture of the Treasury by a faction which is...

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