South Africa: Zorro Ramaphosa Frees You Up, but Just a Little

President Cyril Ramaphosa wears a face mask as he begins his address to the nation on April 23, 2020.

The coronavirus still trumps the economy as President Cyril Ramaphosa introduces a system of load shedding-like levels to restart the economy.

At the end of his fourth national address on Covid-19, President Cyril Ramaphosa dropped the serious to engage in some mask modelling - except that his covering, in beautiful cloth, got stuck around his eyes. He looked like a coronavirus-era Zorro: where even the most heroic leaders are being blindsided by the pesky ball of RNA with pointy bits.

The economy is in a tailspin and one million jobs (and climbing) are likely to go to the wall as the viral slump hits. All industry associations have reported to Ramaphosa and the picture is already dire. In marathon Nedlac meetings over the past week, the president has heard that 15% of large firms in agriculture, the chemical sector, construction and global business services, and 25% of retailers could shut up shop as South Africa enters a depression.

The numbers for small and medium-sized enterprises he heard were even more dispiriting.

Sector pundits showed him the economic death spiral that Covid-19 was dragging in its wake, and that in tourism (75% of SMEs), transport (65%), clothing retail (55%), mining (45%),...

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