Finance minister Tito Mboweni’s speeches are often so thin there seems little point in giving them. For the latest — the medium-term budget policy statement — you wonder why he bothered to travel all the way from Magoebaskloof to Cape Town. Why not just put out a statement?

I don’t mean to be nasty, but the expense of it all hardly matches the result. The sound we heard on Wednesday afternoon was promises being broken. The odd digital screech on TV was actually the minister backsliding on his commitment earlier in 2020 to cap our debt at 87% of GDP within three years. This was part of his “active scenario” — a tough minister taking on a wayward government...

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