Reading through the National Treasury’s meticulous budget documents, the contrast between the state of the nation (Sona) and the budget is very apparent. Sona is the aspirational shopping list given by the president to the finance minister. The budget is what is actually in the trolley when the minister leaves the shop. The president can announce whatever he likes, but until it manifests in the budget, it remains in the collective dreamscape of the ANC. So it should come as no surprise that this was not a Sona budget but an Eskom one. In a context of low growth and imminent catastrophe, there is only so much that can be done. If you can’t keep the lights on, nothing else matters anyway. When it comes to basic education, this was a "business as usual" budget. Most of the headline-grabbing Sona pronouncements were conveniently left out. There was no mention of "one tablet per child" and nothing about two years of compulsory early childhood development. That’s a relief. There is no evi...

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