Finance minister Enoch Godongwana wasn’t as enthusiastic as one might have expected when he briefed journalists ahead of a medium-term budget that contained the best set of fiscal numbers SA has seen in many years.

One reason, perhaps, is that while the minister made the most of the opportunity he was provided to try to tackle long-standing issues at the most troublesome of state-owned entities (SOEs), he did so well aware of the enormous risks to his budget framework. And as the list of fiscal risks at the back of the budget document makes clear, those are as much about the dysfunctional state of the state itself as they are about the macro environment out there...

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