Is the finance minister this country’s only politician willing to tell voters the truth about immigration? Reaction to Tito Mboweni’s budget speech last week focused inevitably on issues such as Eskom and the state of public finances. On the latter issue, he was greeted with shock and horror when he told the truth and promised to fix the problem. In the process, no-one noticed his equally controversial truth-telling on another issue. One “challenge” facing economic revival, he said, was nationalism: “In many successful economies, immigrants have been a source of dynamism. Narrow nationalism often leads to stagnation. We need to redouble our efforts to attract highly skilled people to SA.” In one sense, this was stating the obvious — the more people with skills are available to an economy, the more it is likely to grow. Hostility to immigrants is particularly damaging in this country, where people often worry about skilled emigration. It should not take a degree in economics to reali...

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