Finance minister Tito Mboweni is delivering the 2019 budget in parliament on Wednesday, where he will unpack debt issues and a final rescue plan for Eskom. Eskom's debt is more than R400bn. The utility, which borrows to service debt, is battling to afford maintenance and this week cut supply by 4,000MW as its ailing power stations struggled to cope with demand. Mboweni is expected to provide details on how the government will handle the Eskom crisis "without burdening the fiscus with unmanageable debt".

Moody's this week signalled that it would downgrade SA's rating if the government provided any such support without immediate and "unpopular" measures to cut Eskom's costs and/or increase tariffs. What the budget will do about it is the big question. Some economists expect Mboweni to announce some support now, others that he could promise conditional support over the next three to four years if Eskom delivers the promised restructuring and cost cuts. In addition to delivering t...

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