Finalists for Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition announced

The top 19 finalists for the competition that is aimed at developing South Africa’s future economic leaders have been announced with tertiary students from Gauteng, followed by the Eastern Cape making up the majority of this year’s finalists.

First held in 1972, the Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition recognises and highlights the depth of talent, intellect and insight that exists within the ranks of South Africa’s future economic leaders. Jointly sponsored by Nedbank and Old Mutual, the annual competition poses challenging economic scenarios to be researched and explored by undergraduate and postgraduate economics students from tertiary institutions across the country.

With Gauteng being the most populous province in the country, and boasting some of the biggest tertiary institutions, it is not surprising that 13 of the 19 finalists hail from the province. The Eastern Cape, however, has risen in the ranks over the years, this year boasting the second highest number of finalists, with five bright young minds representing the province.

The 2020 undergraduate essay topic was whether the implementation of land expropriation without compensation in South Africa would unlock greater economic growth or damage it further. The postgraduate topic was for students to make the case for or against a change in the mandate and ownership of the South African Reserve Bank.

“We are honoured to co- sponsor a competition that aims to grow economic excellence in South Africa by promoting the principles of sustainable economic development, developing future leaders in economics, making young South Africans excited about economics as a subject and career path and lastly, providing students with an opportunity to establish contact with key players in the financial world” said Nedbank Chief Executive, Mike Brown.

Many previous finalists and winners are now professors or doctors in economics serving in the academic field, while others are working in top local and international organisations. The 2012 postgraduate 1st runner up, Khethinkosi Dlamini, is one of many examples of how the competition has been successful in its endeavour to develop some of South Africa’s future economic leaders. Dlamini now holds the position of Director of Fiscal Policy Planning at National Treasury and is a 2021 finalist for the Fullbright U.S Student Program.

The winner of the 1986 competition Anel Bosman has risen through the ranks at Nedbank, and today she is the Group Managing Executive for the Corporate and Investment Banking division.

Iain Williamson, CEO of Old Mutual says “We have been privileged to host some of the brightest young economists in the country and I am equally as encouraged by the calibre of talent and thought leadership demonstrated by this year’s finalists. In addition to providing a platform and opportunities for next generation of problem solvers, this competition also showcases the healthy collaboration between the different sectors in our society, from government and business to our finest educational institutions.”

A total of 204 qualifying essay entries were received. From them, 19 finalists were selected by a Filter and Adjudication Panel comprised of representatives from sponsors Nedbank and Old Mutual, National Treasury, the business sector, academia, and external consultants. All essays were initially marked by the Filter Panel, with the top 19 selected in each category after much debate and mutual agreement.

Due to the adherence to Covid-19 protocols, for the final round of this year’s competition, the finalists will be interviewed virtually by the Adjudication Panel during Budget Week. The panel will evaluate each student in terms of the following criteria: intellectual sparkle, ability to formulate and express rational arguments, and understanding and knowledge of topical global economic issues. Thereafter, the winners of the 49th Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition will be announced at a virtual gala event to be held on Wednesday 24 February 2020.

Apart from the obvious prestige associated with being a Budget Speech Competition winner, there is a total of R420 000 in prize money up for grabs, with the postgraduate winner earning R150 000 for his or her efforts and the top undergraduate entrant walking off with R60 000.

The cash prizes awarded to the winners and two runner ups in each category must be used for academic purposes.

The prizes are distributed as follows:

Postgraduate Category

1st Prize: R150 000
2nd Prize: R100 000
3rd Prize: R50 000

Undergraduate Category

1st Prize: R60 000
2nd Prize: R40 000
3rd Prize: R20 000

The 19 finalists are listed below:


Postgraduate finalists

Lehlohonolo Domela, Nelson Mandela UniversityLindokuhle Luke, The University of South Africa
Lebo Siboyi, University of the Witwatersrand
Yasmin Meerholz, University of the Witwatersrand
Luyanda Matomane, University of Fort Hare (East London)
Claire McCann, Rhodes University
Stanley Mabuka, University of Pretoria
Sumaiya Sidat, University of the Witwatersrand
Felicia Mashimbye, University of Johannesburg

Undergraduate finalists

Adrian Joseph, University of Cape Town
Zola Bradley Thamaga, University of Johannesburg
Lee-Anne Andanje, University of Pretoria
Mahfouz Raffee, University of the Witwatersrand
Suvira Singh, University of Johannesburg
Dicend Chiseko, University of Fort Hare (Alice)
Ndivhuwo Malange, Nelson Mandela University
Sisonke Pheme, University of Johannesburg
Arefa Seleho, University of the Witwatersrand
John Hanssen, University of Pretoria

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