This study analyses the performance of macroeconomic policy in South Africa in 2007–2020 and outlines challenges for policy in the coming decade. After remarkable economic growth in 1997–07, South Africa’s progress slowed dramatically in 2009 with the global financial crisis. Real GDP growth decelerated more than in other emerging markets and mineral exporting peers and never recovered pre-crisis levels. In addition, the budget deficit that provided counter-cyclical support to the economy was never reigned in, leading to a rapidly rising public debt load. 'The study assesses three accounts of South Africa’s post-GFC growth and fiscal slump: (1) an external story; (2) a macro story; and (3) a microeconomic story. Evidence of strong linkages between micro- and political developments and growth performance is provided.