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THE Budget Speech delivered on Wednesday 26 February by our Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, and was met with mixed responses from the South African public. Some were positive, thanking the treasury for avoiding tax increases and cutting the public wage bill. Others were negative, especially those who hoped to see larger cuts to large State-owned enterprises such as Eskom or SAA.

Personally, I quite enjoyed this time surrounding the budget speech of South Africa. Not only because it is economically interesting, with some fluctuations in the value of the Rand and market responses following the speech, but also due to the opportunity the budget speech offers us all to stop, look around, and assess where we are. As an economy, as a people and also as a nation.

Following the spectacular success of the Springboks in the World Cup last year, there seems to be at least a glimmer of hope left in our country.

Yes, the darkness (excuse the pun Eskom) might have dampened the national mood, and our fair share of public sector tensions haven’t helped, but silently the ember of hope burns in the heart of South Africa. We can do this.

However, practically, numbers mean numbers and budget speech involve budgets.

But, while our government shares its plans for the fiscal year to come, it offers us all an opportunity to take in the reality of our common situation.

Things aren’t all as good as we might have hoped for them to be.

Maybe I, or we as students, are a bit young to claim that things are not what we ‘hoped’ for them to be. Hope implies an expectation of future reality, and I think the hopes of those who survived and fought for the freedom of all under the Apartheid regime are the hopes that our current nation in 2020 should be measured against. What did people in 1994 think South Africa would look like in 2020?

I’m not sure I have enough time, or words, to write about what I think people might have imagined, but I am quietly confident of one thing. They would not want us to give up. o

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