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UJ student triumphs in 2023/2024 Nedbank & Old Mutual Budget Speech competition

Sandile Mbatha, a postgraduate student from the College of Business and Economics (CBE) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), has been announced as the winner of the 2023/2024 Nedbank & Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition. This announcement was made on Wednesday, February 21, 2024.

The Nedbank & Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition serves as a dynamic platform for fostering economic insights and nurturing young talents across South African universities. With over 200 compelling entries received, a panel of expert judges meticulously evaluated each submission, selecting exceptional students who demonstrated remarkable abilities to engage with and propose innovative solutions to complex economic and societal issues.

A platform for economic solutions

This long-standing initiative, spanning over five decades, is a collaborative effort between National Treasury, Nedbank, and Old Mutual. It aims to empower South Africa’s brightest minds, promoting economic education and growth. Presented as an essay competition, the contest provides students with a platform to offer creative solutions to pressing economic and societal challenges. Past winners of this competition have gone on to become influential economists, thinkers, business leaders, and change-makers, significantly impacting the country’s intellectual and economic landscape.

In this year’s competition, undergraduate students were tasked with discussing inflation dynamics in emerging markets between 2017 and 2022, focusing on the implications for the conduct of monetary policy, with particular attention to South Africa.

Postgraduate students were challenged to express their perspectives on the “Just Energy Transition” and its potential impacts on the South African economy. Their assignments involved exploring whether this transition could catalyse the country’s growth and prosperity or, conversely, if it might be an initiative that ultimately fails.

Sandile’s vision for the future

Sandile Mbatha’s victory highlights the excellence and dedication of UJ students in contributing to significant economic discourse. His achievement reflects not only his accomplishments but also the commitment of UJ to nurturing talent and fostering academic excellence.

The 24-year-old shared his excitement on his victory: “It feels unbelievable. I was a bit intimidated by some of the other candidates who were also really good but I am excited to have come out on top.”

The Masters’ in Development Economics student added that his plans included staying in the field of Economics and contributing expertise through academia, the public or private sector using his skills to help develop and impact society in progressive ways.

“The tools used in Economics to analyse society enable us to make policy decisions that can impact society and address the three most difficult obstacles facing the country, poverty, unemployment and equality. Essentially, I studied Economics and Econometrics to get the technical know-how to solve those problems.”

UJ dominance: Four finalists stand out

UJ boasted four finalists in the prestigious 2023/2024 Nedbank Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition. Alongside Sandile Mbatha, the other outstanding students representing UJ were Delisa Simelane, Kabelo Rabaloyi, and Mziwanele Maxakatho.

The Economics@UJ Budget Speech team played a crucial role in preparing the students for this competition. The team included Naiefa Rashied, Liza Volschenk, Tenneson Boatsi, Marinda Pretorius, Bonolo Thobejane, Magda Wilson, Athule Rampeba, Asanda Ndulini, Babalwa Somtunzi, and Brian Maphutha who gave their unwavering support and expertise in guiding the students, under the leadership of Professor Eita Hinaunye.

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