University of Pretoria: UP Economics student named first runner-up in Budget Speech Competition


Stanley Mabuka, a master’s degree student in Economics at the University of Pretoria (UP), was recently named first runner-up in the postgraduate category of the 2020 Nedbank & Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition.

Mabuka, who took home a R100 000 cash prize, said he was unaware of the competition until he saw a LinkedIn post 10 days before the submission date. Upon learning that winners would have an opportunity to interact with seasoned economists, industry experts and fellow students from other universities, he immediately started working on his essay submission. “Preparing for participation required discipline and hard work, as the demands of my heavyweight course left me with very little time to spare,” Mabuka said.

The competition required postgraduate students to present arguments on whether the ownership and mandate of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) should be changed. “I argued that, while it is technically feasible to change the mandate to include economic growth and employment, changing ownership was a secondary issue that should not preoccupy the policy discourse, and has the potential to undermine SARB independence and policy credibility,” he explained.

Mabuka said he received an immense amount of support from staff in the Department of Economics, which inspired him to deliver for UP. “Professor Steve Koch was one person I did not hesitate to bother whenever I needed technical support; Prof Nicola Viegi and Frederik Scholtz also provided support and insight during my preparations.” Mabuka also thanked his macroeconomics lecturers, who he said did a fantastic job in building a solid macro theory that gave him an edge in crafting a piece of work that was found worthy of an accolade.

Prof Koch, Head of the Department of Economics, said they are immensely proud of Mabuka’s performance. “Although we were there to help Stanley along the way, achievements of this nature require the self-starter spirit that he has. He has shown himself to be dedicated and hard-working. Even under last year’s difficult circumstances, he excelled in his course work, and made special arrangements to continue to work and prepare for the competition. We are pleased that the judges also saw what we see; Stanley can and will make a difference. We are very proud to have him represent the Department and the University the way he did.”

The top performers in the competition were announced during a virtual award ceremony, where finalists had the opportunity to interact with Dr David Masondo, Deputy Minister of Finance, and Nedbank and Old Mutual executives. “The competition was enriching and rewarding,” Mabuka said. “I found it worthwhile because it confirmed that I could become a future leader. Things that stood out for me were the media training sessions, hot seat panel interviews and collaborative simulations with other bright students.”

He said discipline and hard work were behind his performance, and encouraged UP students to enter this year’s competition. “Take a leap of faith, give it your best shot and work hard – you will enjoy the entire experience. After all, you increase the probability of another student scooping the prize by deciding not to enter.”

UP students Lee-Anne Andanje and John Hanssen also represented the University well by making the top 10 in the undergraduate category of the competition.

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