There is a big "if" woven throughout the length and breadth of finance minister Tito Mboweni’s budget. In fact, if the hope and exuberance inspired by the budget are to last for any length of time, two big "ifs" — both of them issues that the ANC is notoriously bad at controlling.

First, if the public sector trade unions play ball and agree to the swingeing R303bn wage cuts proposed by the National Treasury over the next three years, then we are talking. Second, unless the government learns how to say no to the cash-guzzling state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that have become addicted to regular bailouts from the National Treasury, the budget will unravel and fail...

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