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The Country, the People, and the Debt

OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP

The news last week that South Africa has received a $4.3 billion loan from the IMF to help tide it over the COVID-19 crisis resulted in a revealing moment online. Rather than celebrating this lifeline to an economy that was already weak before the pandemic, and which was then pushed into recession in March, South Africans responded with something akin to despair. South African Twitter widely lamented the loan as the start of yet another spate of government corruption, which will leave South Africans with the same faltering public institutions, but much more debt. 

This is hardly surprising. Even as South Africans listen numbly to ongoing revelations of looting under the previous administration, new allegations of corrupt officials taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis are also piling up. 

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