Nedbank & Old Mutual Budget Speech competition celebrates its 50th edition

ONE OF the longest running youth competitions in South Africa is celebrating a major milestone this February – The Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition marks an incredible 50 years of Powering Africa’s Future Leaders!

Founded in 1972, the “Budget Speech Competition”, as it is more widely known, has become a highly anticipated annual event that coincides with the delivery of the national Budget Speech. Designed as a platform to empower and create exposure for the country’s brightest young minds, the Budget Speech Competition has created opportunities for thousands of aspiring young thinkers to understand the fiscal policy process as well as contribute their creative ideas towards solving some of our country’s most pressing socio-economic challenges.

The Budget Speech Competition is a public-private partnership between Nebank, Old Mutual, National Treasury and various academic institutions across the country. Run as an annual essay competition, it calls on entrants to put themselves in the shoes of the Finance Minister to solve topical complex policy issues. The themes are updated for every round of the competition to closely reflect the socio-economic and political challenges of the day.

This year, student finalists have responded with their thoughts on the public sector wage bill as an expenditure control measure as well as on debt default risk and its potential fallout. From hundreds of entries, a stringent adjudication filter process was held, led by leading economists and thinkers, to whittle it down to the essays with the very best ideas.

This year’s 19 undergraduate and postgraduate finalists hail from universities across the country, including the University of Fort Hare, WITS, UCT, Stellenbosch, UWC and Monash. The profile of finalists has become significantly more diverse and representative over the past five decades – there are six finalists from the University of Fort Hare this year, with previous winners also representing the university over the past few rounds of the competition.

“We are encouraged by the tangible impact the Budget Speech Competition continues to have on South Africa’s youth. As an organisation whose purpose is to champion mutually positive futures for all of our stakeholders every day, we see this purpose being realised through the many success stories of student finalists who have gone on to do great things, becoming change agents wherever they are,” says Iain Williamson, CEO of Old Mutual.

The Budget Speech Competition has produced an impressive list of alumni in its five decade existence. Some of these include:

– Anel Bosman, who participated in 1987 and became the first female winner, is now the Managing Executive at Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking

– Isaah Mhlanga, the 2008 first runner-up who has gone on to become Executive Chief Economist at Alexander Forbes

– Khetha Dlamini, the 2012 first runner-up, who went on to become the Director of Fiscal Policy Planning at National Treasury before taking up a Mandela Rhodes scholarship at Harvard University

– Divan Jagers, a finalist in 2015 who is now employed by Old Mutual as an Actuarial Specialist.

“We at Nedbank are extremely proud to have supported this Competition over the past 50 years. It not only speaks directly to our purpose of using our financial expertise to do good, but underscores our commitment to developing young leaders in our country. I am confident that this group of young people will go on to effect positive change and inspire new generations of problem solvers to unlock sustainably higher levels of inclusive economic growth in South Africa,” says Nedbank Chief Executive Mike Brown.

For South Africa to fulfil its promise and potential, it needs visionary leaders and influencers who have both a deep understanding of economic issues and a motivation towards building a stable and socially just society.

The Budget Speech Competition has demonstrated just how much can be achieved in 50 years if we work together.

Nedbank and Old Mutual remain committed to using this platform over the coming 50 years to help unlock our youth’s potential to help overcome our far-reaching challenges by steering us away from instability and inequality towards a future of inclusive and sustainable prosperity.

For more information, go to

Image (From left – Nedbank chief executive Mike Brown, 2019 winner from EC, finance dep minister David Masondo and Old Mutual CE Iain Williamson at the awards ceremony in Cape Town).

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