It’s worse that even the most pessimistic may have thought: the corruption, state capture and incompetence of the Zuma years have cost the country R1 trillion in gross domestic product.
The effects of that ruinous time are only being seen now – nine months later – as the country goes into recession, for the third time in a decade.
In the past, the normal global economic cycle has seen the economy bounce back and encouraging growth has returned.
But now, the problems the country faces are deep and serious.
And it is no good blaming the new president, Cyril Ramaphosa. He is not able to perform miracles.
Ramaphosa is trying to rid the governance system of the corrupt recidivists he inherited from the previous regime, but he has to tread carefully because his own political position is far from secure.
The Zuma-ites have been growing visibly more confident in the past few months and Ramaphosa’s house-cleaning is going to face more challenges.
He has also been forced into playing populist policy cards – such as land expropriation without compensation – to keep the EFF off his political back.
Now, he must make unpopular decisions – like cutting the civil service.
That will be his biggest test.