This is the worst of times for the finance minister. But think about the best of times. In 2007, then finance minister Trevor Manuel announced a budget surplus in what was perhaps the most triumphant budget speech since democracy.

“Sound management of public finances and the improved tax compliance culture on which it rests provides us with the resources to invest in our public services, renew our infrastructure, reshape our residential areas, provide water, electricity, housing, sanitation, schooling, health care and access roads to millions who were previously denied these elementary building blocks of modern society” he said then.

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