What was the most significant aspect of finance minister Tito Mboweni’s budget speech? There is lots to choose from, of course, but I suspect it’s something seemingly fairly innocuous: the appointment of “reconfiguration” officers to be posted to SA’s flailing and failing state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Why is this so important? It represents a minor sea-change in the ANC’s approach to problem-solving. How much of a sea-change remains to be seen, but hear me out. If you were to take a snapshot of SA’s modern history, you would probably divide it into three periods, roughly but not exactly aligned with the three main political figures of the period, presidents Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. The Mandela period is often thought of as era of “reconciliation”. In fact, beneath the surface it was one of a reconfiguration of the state; new provinces were established, and a new mode and structure of the government. The “reconciliation” approach was necessary to ensure the co-op...

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