There is much to criticise in Tito Mboweni’s budget and many commentators have done so eloquently. Yet to my mind there is much to praise, and much to be hopeful about.

Mboweni’s speech also confronted the elephant in the room: the bloated civil service and the need to trim.

February is always full of political action in SA. Last year was extraordinary: a postponed state of the nation address (Sona), a president ejected by the governing party, a new president and a major cabinet reshuffle all in one short month. The month’s chaos was a fitting epitaph to the 10 years of purposelessness that were the Zuma years. The 2018 budget was delivered by a discredited, ill-at-ease pretender to the position who knew that he was about to be kicked out of the office he did not deserve. The man tried to be woke, quoting musician and urban poet Kendrick Lamar: “We gonna be alright!” We were not alright and his assurance was more than hollow. He hiked VAT to plug the hole in the country’s finances created by his comrades’ rampant corruption in government departments and state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The VAT hike stays with us through 2019, meaning that we all, particularly the poor, continue to pay for the Zuma administration’s misrule of the past 10 years. The politi...

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