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Trio Top Budget Speech Contest

- Wits University

Witsies clinch the top three places in the #BudgetSpeechCompetition

Three students from the School of Economics and Finance clinched the top spots at the 52nd Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition, held in Cape Town last week.

Hamzah Mia budget speech competition winner

Hamzah Mia, Shuaib Mahomed, and Paula Prinsloo were placed first, second and third respectively, in the undergraduate category, marking a triumphant achievement for the University. Another five Witsies featured amongst the top ten finalists - Aceng Akii, Khethokuhle Chamane, Avanish Dayal, Katelyn Francis, and Mbalenhle Mdluli. Another Witsie, Muhammad Irshaad Mayet, was the 2nd runner-up in the postgraduate section. Congratulations!

This prestigious competition offers university students a unique opportunity to closely engage with the Minister of Finance, Mr Enoch Godongwana, on the day of the Budget Speech. The contest consists of the undergraduate and postgraduate categories - where students craft essays addressing challenging and pertinent topics posed by Nedbank and Old Mutual. This year, undergraduate students grappled with understanding the challenges of mitigating post-COVID inflation, whilst postgraduate students delved into the nuances of the Just Energy Transition.

The competition receives about a hundred entries from higher education institutions across South Africa, and it is a remarkable achievement for eighty percent of the finalists to hail from Wits.

Shuaib Mahomed, and Paula Prinsloo

“I would like to extend my huge congratulations to the winners, the finalists and all the students who participated in this year’s competition,” says Professor Uma Kollamparambil, Head of the School of Economics and Finance at Wits. “We are extremely proud of you for ably applying the knowledge that you have learnt and for making your mark in the world.”

Wits students who participated in the #BudgetSpeech2022 competition and the #BudgetSpeech2023 contest won the top spots. Reflecting on this remarkable achievement Kollamparambil commended the students for their continuous academic excellence. “These stellar results for the third consecutive year are testament to the University’s commitment to produce high calibre and competitive graduates, who are ready for industry. I would like to specially acknowledgement our academic staff for their continuous commitment and fortitude,” adds Kollamparambil.

The culmination of the competition unfolded in Cape Town this week, where finalists participated in events leading up to the 2024 Budget Speech. Panel interviews arranged by Nedbank and Old Mutual challenged the finalists, while a gala dinner held in their honour on the evening of the Budget Speech provided a platform for interaction with influential figures, including Minister Godongwana, Nedbank’s CEO Mike Brown, Old Mutual’s CEO Iain Williamson, and other notable guests from government and the private sector.

A noteworthy moment transpired when two Wits finalists posed challenging economic questions directly to Minister Godongwana. Representing the undergraduate finalists, Khethokuhle Chamane inquired about budget cuts to the National Students’ Financial Aid Scheme and whether funds from the Gold and Foreign Exchange Contingency Reserve Account would be directed to NSFAS. On behalf of the postgraduate students, Muhammad Irshaad Mayet questioned why developing countries, particularly those from BRICS, have not supported the Just Energy Transition and whether South Africa has actively sought such backing.

Read about Wits’ achievements in 2022 and 2023. Entries to the 53rd Budget Speech Competition are now open and close on 31 July 2024.