The art of politics is essentially the art of allocating resources in a fashion that keeps everyone happy while still voting for the ruling party. You'd think this means that the most popular person in the country is the one who can make this happen in the best possible way.
But truth is, this most popular person would soon lose pole position if he had to keep making those decisions. So the job gets outsourced to someone called the Finance Minister. Sometimes they're a tooth fairy to an electorate that's about to vote. Sometimes they're an enforcer. Pravin Gordhan is not a tooth fairy.
Due the peculiarities of our own odd political cycle of ANC conferences, then national and provincial elections, followed by local government elections, we spend more time in election mode than most countries. But the peak is still the national elections, which are now just around six months away.
The smart money ahead of Gordhan's Medium Term Budget Policy Statement was on something that would buy votes. If he were in Venezuela, it would have been a mini-budget aimed at taking from the rich and giving to the poor in the most populist of...