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Finance minister Tito Mboweni’s budget speech was full of biblical quotes, which was oddly appropriate. He quoted the biblical passage in Zechariah 8: “For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall be given their due, and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things”. The passage is positive and upbeat. But the true essence of the budget is reflected in Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Over the past decade, the government’s finances have gradually unwound, through poor policy choices, poor implementation, festering corruption and disappointing economic growth. It’s been a sobering and grinding process. The process of decline was insidious because government’s comparatively strong position a decade ago allowed it to argue that loosening the reins was simply a part of “leaning against the wind”. In other words using some of the acc...

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