Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba announced the winners of the 2017 Nedbank Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition at a gala dinner. Khayelihle Madlopha from the University of Zululand and Benjamin McGraw from Wits University scooped the top prize in the Undergraduate and Postgraduate categories respectively.
The winners and runners-up were selected from a shortlist of 20 finalists. Interest in the competition, now in its 46th year, again demonstrated that our nation’s young people are keen to play a constructive role in strengthening the economy and building a better and more inclusive society.
Announcing the winners, Minister Gigaba said that amongst the key investments spoken about in the National Budget Speech is the national priority of higher education. “The great minds exhibited in this competition are a testament to the need for further investments in cultivating brilliant future generations.
National government will continue to prioritise the cultivation of people who are going to shape the future of our country. Being amongst them has been an honour. We thank Nedbank and Old Mutual for its investment not only in the youth but also into South Africa. Ultimately they contextualise how we all continue investing into the kind of South Africa that we want to see.”
The economic and fiscal costs of corruption was the timely topic for the undergraduate category in the 2017 competition. The postgraduate essay topic focused on monetary policies adopted by central banks following the 2018 global financial crisis.
Peter Moyo, CEO of Old Mutual Emerging Markets, explained that the aim of the Budget Speech Competition is to promote the principles of sustainable economic development, develop future leaders in the field of economics and make young South Africans excited about economics as a subject and career path. He praised the calibre of this year’s entries as well as the diversity of institutions represented.
“From the standard of the entries, it’s clear that our tertiary institutions are developing a generation of talented long-term leaders and influencers.
We are proud that by investing in their potential, we are helping to build a strong knowledge-based economy,” he added. “Old Mutual is pleased to be part of an initiative that promotes responsible socio-economic thinking and motivates students in economics and finance to apply their analytical minds to constructive solutions.”
Nedbank Group Chief Executive Mike Brown said based on the calibre of the essays in this year’s competition, he’s confident that the future of this country is in good hands. “The topics in this year’s competition addressed crucial issues related to accelerating the economic growth required as we embark on our new journey as a country under new leadership.”
But, there’s much to be done, added Brown. “With the transformative events we’ve seen the last few months in SA, we need everyone to pitch in and do their part to build on the positive change our country is experiencing.
The reality is that the real hard work of transforming and rebuilding our economy must now be undertaken by all of us with urgency and commitment.”
Brown said he was confident that the country “is once again on a sound path to economic growth” that will benefit all. “I’m excited at the prospects awaiting our country in the coming months .”
Moyo believes that the job of rebuilding South Africa and restoring investor confidence requires an extraordinary united effort from all role-players.
“All sectors, including the public and private sectors, labour, civil society and academia, need to commit to overcoming the barriers to progress together.
Building a vibrant economy with an efficient infrastructure, one that offers a decent quality of life for all and reduces poverty, unemployment and inequality, is not just government’s responsibility. Nor is it up to business or unions. All of us, South Africans from all corners of this country, young and old, have a role to play,” he says, “and listening to the voices of students – the problem solvers of the next generation – is vital.”