Finance minister Tito Mboweni’s budget left me both inspired and depressed. The presentation was impressive. It went some way to countering the narrative, which he himself in fairness did much to promote, that he was disinterested in the job, and no longer had the patience for outdated concepts such as collective responsibility. Utterances about closing down SA Airways (SAA), in contrast to official policy, also buttressed the idea that he didn’t have the necessary discipline to thrive in government. The presentation didn’t give one the impression that the person giving it was either not interested or in a rush to get out of the administration. He left out the possibility that he might still be around after the elections in May. The budget itself was rather grim. To describe it as disappointing would imply that there were exceedingly high expectations going into it. With the economic performance having deteriorated and no discernible progress towards fixing or selling the broken sta...

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