So much has been said about what happened during the almost 10 years that Jacob Zuma was president of SA. Finance minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday delivered a budget that confirmed that it is now payback time. He didn’t pull any punches in acknowledging the mess that the country finds itself in. The numbers are stark and make for pretty grim reading. The budget deficit will balloon to 4.5% of GDP in 2020, the widest since the depths of the global financial crisis. SA had the misfortune of having Zuma rise to the presidency just at the time when local and global events required strong and ethical leadership. The initial fiscal slippage was largely seen as necessary in the beginning as countries across the world were looking at ways to stimulate their economies.

We know what has happened since then. As the rest of the global economy started to recover, we got stuck in a decade of virtually no growth and rampant corruption, withstate capture destroying previously world-class in...

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