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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: The Economist.]

If the president is not willing to upset people, the economy will not grow.

In 1991 cyril ramaphosa went fishing with Roelf Meyer, his opposite number in the negotiations to end apartheid. When Mr Meyer got a trout hook stuck deep in his hand, Mr Ramaphosa proved the only one able to extract it, with the aid of an analgesic dram of Scotch. The tale is part of South African political folklore. For some it symbolises how the man who in February 2018 became the country’s president has long been able to forge relationships with any interlocutor—and to make sure they both get what they want, without too much pain. By the end of the constitutional convention, Mr Meyer later recalled, he felt that there was nothing the two of them could not resolve.

Twenty-five years after the end of apartheid, South Africa is at another perilous moment. Years of corruption under Jacob Zuma, the man Mr Ramaphosa replaced as president, ravaged a country that was already facing deep problems. Today the rainbow nation has unemployment of 29%, one of the highest rates in the world. Growth has been negative in three of the past six quarters. Public debt as a share of gdp is rising steadily, partly thanks to insolvent state-owned enterprises such as Eskom, a power utility that cannot keep the lights on. In the next few weeks Moody’s may become the third large credit-rating agency to downgrade the country’s debt to “junk” status, a signal that could send foreign capital fleeing.

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South Africa at a Glance
58 780 000 (mid 2019 estimate)
3.7% y/y in October 2019 (CPI) & +4.1 y/y in September 2019 (PPI)
3.1% q/q (2nd quarter of 2019)
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