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Young UJ economic minds emerge winners of SA national budget speech competition

​Defining the future of economics in South Africa, five University of Johannesburg (UJ) students won the Nedbank and Old Mutual 2016 Budget Speech Competition following Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan’s budget address. Guy Russell (1st prize – postgraduate), Arthur Mahuma, Hendrik Oosthuizen (3rd prize – postgraduate), Mususumeli Rikhotso (3rd prize – undergraduate), and Zenzi Pahla put UJ at the top with their essays forecasting economics in the country.

Only full-time or part-time students, postgraduate or undergraduate students, and students registered for an economics course are eligible to enter the competition. These includes students at any recognised South African institution for higher learning (including the Military Academy and the Universities of Technology).

Launched in 1972, this year sees the competition celebrate its 44th year. Whilst the format of the event has evolved over the last four decades to keep up with the changing times, judges have continued to select essays written by some of the top economic minds the country has produced. Initially, the competition was only open for postgraduate students, but in the early 90’s the undergraduate category was introduced.

For the first three decades, there was a finalist per participating university from which the winner and runners up were selected, but subsequently the top 10 essays were selected irrespective of the university the entrants came from.

Up until 2005, the winner of the postgraduate category was awarded a bursary to Cambridge University but since then a cash prize is awarded to be used for academic purposes.

The competition attracts some of the brightest young economists in the country; people who have gone on to significant positions both in South Africa and abroad. Some of the winners are now Professors or Doctors in Economics serving in the academic field, while others are working in the National Treasury and in top organisations both locally and overseas.

The judges of the competition are:

Panel: Rudi Dicks, Yumma Ebrahim, Omano Edigheji, Ebrahim-Khalil Hassen, Mohammed Jahed, Andre Mellet, Dikgang Motsepe, Andre Roux, Wilhelmina Smith, Samantha Springfield, and Max Dockel

Adjudicated panel: Mampho Modise, Ntsiki Mbono, Dondo Mogojane, Busisiwe Radebe, Dennis Dykes, Johann Els, Patrick Ntshalintshali, Rian le Roux, Mandla Maleka, Nazmeera Moola, and Maureen Mashiane.​​

“I am extremely proud of the winners from UJ, out of the total of six winners of the competition. This is a big accolade for the Department of Economics and Econometrics at UJ. I would like to congratulate the winners and I want them to know that we will be watching their progress as Economists and may they win the Economist of the Year Award in the future. My special congratulations to Guy, who is the overall winner in the Postgraduate competition. I also would like to express my gratitude to the academics who supported the students. Without their support, the students would not have been able to reach such heights. I am proud of you walking the extra mile with the students,” said Prof Amanda Dempsey, Executive Dean: Faculty of Economics and Financial Sciences (FEFS).

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