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Photo: Ramaphosa, with Mandela looking on (in mural form). Photo: Rajesh Jantilal/AFP

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's efforts to revive Africa's second-largest economy aren't off to a propitious start.

The latest: The country has now entered into recession for the first time in nearly a decade, and Ramaphosa's remedies are limited by the fact that his fantastically corrupt predecessor left a bare cupboard behind. Emigration is on the rise. Foreign investment isn't.

  • Ramaphosa's message since taking office in February has been that the bad old days are over. However, no corrupt officials have been jailed, and many remain in government.

Asked about that last week by Foreign Policy's Jonathan Tepperman, Ramaphosa said prosecutions "will definitely come." He asked for patience and added, "Because we’re not on a slide downward; we’re on a climb upward."

  • On land redistribution, a topic which sparked a recent feud with President Trump, Ramaphosa said South Africa had learned from Zimbabwe's example: "First, we’re not going to allow land grabs. Second, we’re not going to allow land to be redistributed to elites, to party hacks."
  • On the South Africa-U.S. relationship he said: "Despite what has been tweeted in the past, the relationship has not been negatively affected. But we would like to have it strengthened."
  • Ramaphosa rejected the idea that China's investments in Africa represented "a new colonialism," adding: "I come from the school that says you should be able to use other people’s money to make money. But you should also know that it doesn’t come for free."

Go deeper (NYT): South Africa’s Leaders Are Killing One Another.

Go deeper

Democrats drubbing Trumpless GOP on social media

Data: Twitter/CrowdTangle (Feb 24, 2021); Chart: Will Chase/Axios

In a swift reversal from 90 days ago, Democrats are now the ones with overpowering social media muscle and the ability to drive news.

The big picture: Former President Donald Trump’s digital exile and the reversal of national power has turned the tables on which party can keep a stranglehold on online conversation.

Here come Earmarks 2.0

DeLauro at a hearing in May 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Appropriations Committee is preparing to announce details of a plan to restore a limited version of earmarks, which give lawmakers power to direct spending to their districts to pay for special projects.

Why it matters: A series of scandals involving members in both parties prompted a moratorium on earmarks in 2011. But Democrats argue it's worth the risk to bring them back because earmarks would increase their leverage to pass critical legislation with a narrow majority, especially infrastructure and spending bills.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
53 mins ago - Health

New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

New research is bolstering the case for delaying second doses of coronavirus vaccines.

Why it matters: Most vulnerable Americans remain unvaccinated heading into March, when experts predict the more infectious virus variant first found in the U.K. could become dominant in the U.S.