It was more State of the Nation address than budget speech. And when Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan began his medium-term budget speech in Parliament on Wednesday, he received a roaring standing ovation from all the members in the house. With Gordhan due in court next week on charges by the Hawks that have been described as politically motivated and legally vacuous, Wednesday’s budget speech was important as much in terms of what it said about SA’s politics as what it said about the state of the public purse. There were numbers and fiscal ratios in Gordhan’s speech, but it had a lot less of the dry budgetary detail and a lot more of the inspirational and the visionary. The finance minister quoted Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo. He spoke about the Constitution and democracy, and about the need to work together in a social contract — as well as the need for faster, more inclusive growth. He made pointed comments, given the context of capture and corruption, such as: "Those who are c...

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