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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: Daily Maverick by Belinda Bozzoli.]

While South Africa’s media are waffling on in a solipsistic bubble, a very important set of debates – the annual Budget debates – are happening during May in Parliament. They warrant our diligent attention.

Budget speeches are performed, not spoken, in what amounts to a highly theatrical moment for Parliament. In the course of 41 such visual and oral performances, each lasting two hours, each government department presents itself to Parliament and the public, with glossy annual reports, professional looking strategic plans, carefully set out targets and their own, often excitable invited audiences.

So far this year each minister has prefaced his or her speech with a paean to Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, sometimes at considerable, saccharine length. (Little of what follows will live up to the ideals espoused by these revered people.) But the key theatrical moment comes when Budget debates provide opposition parties with the opportunity to challenge these sermons, and to tear away the carefully constructed, bland self-images of the departments. What do they reveal?

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South Africa at a Glance
57 700 000 (mid 2018 estimate)
4.5% y/y in March 2019 (CPI) & +6.2 y/y in March 2019 (PPI)
1.4% q/q (4th quarter of 2018)
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