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Deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas has flagged a growing wave of populism as one of the greatest challenges facing a country battling to extricate itself from a low-growth trap. Jonas has become something of a cause célèbre for those opposing state capture after allegedly refusing a R600,000 bribe from the influential Gupta family in December 2015. This was evident when, after addressing the Gordon Institute of Business Science this week, he received a standing ovation in recognition of his courage for blowing the whistle on the family known to be close to President Jacob Zuma. “We must deal with populism. It’s like playing with hand grenades,” he told a packed audience at the business school. “How you manage your fiscus, the balance between revenue generated and expenditure, how much you borrow — those are real issues, and you can’t deal with those issues in a populist way,” he said. Jonas also stressed that, in a country that has borrowed R2.2 trillion, policy makers need to be...

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