The dark narrative emerging in South Africa’s political conversation is that the transition to democracy in 1994 represented not a moment of liberation, but an indefinite postponement of it – a ‘fatal compromise’, as minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi once memorably termed it. Poverty and deprivation remain the grinding reality for millions of South Africans, compounded by some of the most extreme inequalities on earth. That something has to be done is common cause. But the stakes are high, and failing to get this right could well make things worse.
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