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WORSENING MAELSTROM

By: Darlene Creamer     16th November 2018 Concern is growing again about the position of many of South Africa’s State-owned companies. Corruption and maladministration are important causes for their current distress. However, the sustainability of many of these enterprises is also threatened by their business models, which, in many... 

WORSENING MAELSTROM

BREWING CONFIDENCE

By: Darlene Creamer     9th November 2018 President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent Investment Conference was noteworthy not for the R290-billion in investments unveiled, many of which having already been in the pipeline, but for the atmosphere of renewed hope that surrounded the gathering. The event brimmed to overflowing with high-level... 

BREWING CONFIDENCE

HERE WE GO AGAIN

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd November 2018 South Africans would have experienced a collective sense of déjà vu when Eskom confirmed that it is applying for hikes of 15% a year for the coming three-year tariff period, over-and above what it has already been granted through Regulatory Clearing Account applications. This pattern has been... 

HERE WE GO AGAIN

WOOING INVESTORS

By: Darlene Creamer     26th October 2018 President Cyril Ramaphosa has rightly concluded that South Africa will not be able to extract itself from its current low-growth trap in the absence of far higher levels of investment. He has, thus, set a goal of attracting $100-billion-worth of domestic and foreign investment over the coming... 

WOOING INVESTORS

THE RIGHT ROAD

By: Darlene Creamer     19th October 2018 South Africa’s super confident new Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, is unlikely to be intimidated by the prospect of having to present a Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement less than a month into the job. Nevertheless, he will be expected to demonstrate clearly how he plans to remain on the road... 

THE RIGHT ROAD

UPWARD PRESSURE

By: Darlene Creamer     12th October 2018 South Africans have been forced to endure, and absorb, some devastating fuel-price news since the start of 2018. And the bad news could keep flowing. This was the unhappy message contained in statement released by the South African Petroleum Industry Association following the Department of... 

UPWARD PRESSURE

POIGNANT REMINDER

By: Darlene Creamer     5th October 2018 It was more than ironic that the United Nations (UN) unveiled a new statue of Nelson Mandela at its New York headquarters ahead of a General Assembly at which US President Donald Trump urged world leaders to “reject globalism”. Mandela, by contrast, valued both international solidarity and the UN... 

POIGNANT REMINDER

SERIOUS SHORTFALL

By: Darlene Creamer     28th September 2018 Electricity utility Eskom has made it clear that it is indeed having problems in addressing the coal-stock shortages at some power stations. It attributed the problem partly to the fact that Gupta-family’s Tegeta has entered business rescue. However, it also reflects some bad decisions regarding... 

SERIOUS SHORTFALL

UNENVIABLE POSITION

By: Darlene Creamer     21st September 2018 While news of yet another recession is not altogether surprising, it is nevertheless depressing and confidence sapping. Equally discouraging is the state of the discourse within the African National Congress about how best to navigate the economy out of its low-growth trap. At best the ideas lack... 

UNENVIABLE POSITION

DREAM DEFERRED

By: Darlene Creamer     14th September 2018 A sense of gloom descended across South Africa last week, when it was confirmed that the country had slumped into recession. Immediately questions were asked about whether President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ‘New Dawn’ was actually a ‘false dawn’. What’s clear is that the many governance-induced failings... 

RAISING RENEWABLES

By: Darlene Creamer     7th September 2018 Energy Minister Jeff Radebe has confirmed that the least-cost pathway for new generation in South Africa is a mix of wind, solar and gas. The draft Integrated Resource Plan 2018 makes the same point, but has included five policy adjustments to cater for two coal private coal projects that have... 

RAISING RENEWABLES

CAUTIONARY COLLAPSE

By: Darlene Creamer     31st August 2018 For years now, South African engineers have been warning of mounting infrastructure maintenance backlogs. However, it remains far from clear as to whether the country has any long-term strategy for managing its critical infrastructure? Following the horrific collapse of the motorway bridge in... 

CAUTIONARY COLLAPSE

SHIFTING DECKCHAIRS

By: Darlene Creamer     24th August 2018 Recent power-cut-prone wage negotiations at Eskom were akin to watching the deckchairs being moved on the Titanic before the liner hit its fatal iceberg. It is now broadly accepted that the business is not sustainable in its current form. Yet the negotiations had all the hallmarks of ‘business as... 

SHIFTING DECKCHAIRS

UNHAPPY SEQUEL

By: Darlene Creamer     17th August 2018 Expectations ahead of Zimbabwe’s July 30 election were somewhat elevated by the absence of Robert Mugabe from the ballot. However, events soon took on a very familiar, and unhappy, tone, with strong indications of vote rigging and with protests being violently supressed. Nevertheless, the... 

UNHAPPY SEQUEL

OPEN VERSUS CLOSED

By: Darlene Creamer     10th August 2018 A high degree of cynicism arose following the announcement of new Chinese investments into South Africa worth some $14.7-billion. However, the investment forms only part of a broader charm offensive by China, which senses an opportunity to exploit the gap being created by the isolationist... 

OPEN VERSUS CLOSED

HARD TIMES

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd August 2018 South Africa’s construction industry has come under intense pressure in recent years. The industry’s reputation suffered severely in the wake of the collusion cases. However, a potentially fatal blow has come in the form of a collapse in demand, precipitated by the politically induced slowdown of... 

HARD TIMES

SHANK SHOTS

By: Darlene Creamer     27th July 2018 During an interview at the Trump Turnberry golf course, in Scotland, US President Donald Trump described the European Union (EU) as a “foe”. The comment promoted European council president Donald Tusk to Tweet: “America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake... 

SHANK SHOTS

HEAVEN SENT

By: Darlene Creamer     20th July 2018 Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, whose centenaries we celebrate this month and year, could signal to us how best to tackle some of the big issues of our time. In the absence of any heaven-sent Tweets, it is surely up to all South Africans, especially our political... 

HEAVEN SENT

PRICE HEIST

By: Darlene Creamer     13th July 2018 Temperatures are rising again around the upward trajectory of fuel prices in South Africa. The taxes and levies embedded into the prices have emerged as the main source of irritation. However, in light of South Africa’s revenue-collection problems, there is arguably no realistic chance of these... 

PRICE HEIST

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE . . .

By: Darlene Creamer     6th July 2018 US President Donald Trump did the unthinkable last month by imposing trade restrictions on his closest allies on the basis that their exports posed a threat to America’s national security. The move triggered retaliatory action, along with outrage. In the meanwhile, the main target of Trump’s... 

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE . . .

WRONG TARGET

By: Darlene Creamer     29th June 2018 Without question, Eskom’s new management severely misread the labour relations situation at the utility. As a result, they definitely provided the triggering for the aggressive industrial action that followed. Ironically, though, the workers targeted the wrong people – individuals who are... 

WRONG TARGET

RECAPTURING RUNAWAYS

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd June 2018 Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has made it his mission to ‘recapture’ those State-owned companies that were, by all accounts, left to run amuck during the so-called ‘State capture’ era. Given the financial mess many of these companies are in, it’s far from certain whether government... 

RECAPTURING RUNAWAYS

SOLAR BLOOM

By: Darlene Creamer     15th June 2018 Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology was once again the star renewable-energy performer in 2017. Newly installed capacity increased by about 33%, or around 98 GW, over the record-setting additions of 2016. The ‘Renewables 2018 Global Status Report’, published last week by REN21, estimates that more... 

SOLAR BLOOM

NEW SCIENCE DAWN

By: Darlene Creamer     8th June 2018 The recent official launch of the MeerLICHT telescope is arguably an ideal scientific accompaniment to South Africa’s political ‘New Dawn’. Likewise, the Sutherland-based instrument is the perfect optical accompaniment to the MeerKAT radio telescope. In other words, it will be the ‘eyes’ to the... 

NEW SCIENCE DAWN

FROM NEW DAWN TO . . .

By: Darlene Creamer     1st June 2018 President Cyril Ramaphosa’s workload during his first three-an-a-bit months in office has been heavy to say the least. Even before taking over as President, he needed to intervene urgently to prevent Eskom from running out of cash. The fire fighting has continued unabated since his February 15... 

FROM NEW DAWN TO . . .

BACK ON TRACK

By: Darlene Creamer     25th May 2018 Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has acted decisively against the board at Transnet; a State-owned company that he claims was repurposed to enable corruption and rent seeking. Gordhan says the new interim board, which will be led by Popo Molefe, has been directed to act on the findings... 

BACK ON TRACK

JUGGLING ACT

By: Darlene Creamer     18th May 2018 There is simply so much for President Cyril Ramaphosa to deal with at the moment that it’s little wonder he momentarily lost his cool in Parliament amid incessant heckling from the Democratic Alliance’s John Steenhuisen. For the sake of the country, however, we all need Ramaphosa at his composed... 

JUGGLING ACT

DEPLETION WARNING

By: Darlene Creamer     11th May 2018 New regulations coming into force at the end of May state that data users must be informed when their data is nearing depletion and cannot be defaulted onto out-of-bundle data charges once their data is depleted. However, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa stopped short of... 

DEPLETION WARNING

ROCK & A HARD PLACE

By: Darlene Creamer     4th May 2018 As would have been expected, opposition to Eskom’s application to recoup some R66.6-billion in foregone costs and revenue for three years of the third multiyear price determination period has been fierce. For Eskom, recovering the costs is seen as business critical. However, so is keeping its... 

ROCK & A HARD PLACE

WARNING LIGHTS

By: Darlene Creamer     27th April 2018 Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has revealed that government is monitoring South Africa’s State-owned companies on the basis of a dashboard that shows red, amber and green lights. While he did not disclose which entities are flashing red, it’s fairly safe to say that Eskom, South African Airways,... 

WARNING LIGHTS

NEW ENERGY

By: Darlene Creamer     20th April 2018 Much credit must go to Energy Minister Jeff Radebe and Independent Power Producer Office head Karen Breytenbach for ensuring that the agreements for 27 long-delayed renewable-energy projects were eventually signed earlier this month. They pushed ahead despite fresh sniping from those who believe,... 

NEW ENERGY

DISMAL OUTLOOK

By: Darlene Creamer     13th April 2018 South African Airways (SAA) has confirmed that it is now only likely to break even in its 2021 financial year, having reported a loss of R5.6-billion for 2017, and with a similar loss on the way for 2018. SAA is burning through cash despite the announcement of yet another turnaround strategy.... 

DISMAL OUTLOOK

DANGEROUS & DAMAGING

By: Darlene Creamer     6th April 2018 When the dust eventually settles on Donald Trump’s Presidency, Americans, and the rest of the world, will be left to survey the damage. Prospects for multilateralism and international cooperation will have been seriously weakened. Together with his bellicose rhetoric on North Korea and Iran,... 

DANGEROUS & DAMAGING

LEAKING FUNDS

By: Darlene Creamer     30th March 2018 The financial collapse of the Department of Water and Sanitation, together with reports of operational dysfunction, is almost as worrying as the state of the country’s water security in certain provinces. Fortunately, Parliament appears determined to get to the bottom of the problems with a joint... 

LEAKING FUNDS

FIRED IN ANGER

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd March 2018 In the face of stiff opposition and strong arguments again, US President Donald Trump has pushed ahead with new trade protection measures for steel and aluminium. He has even gone so far as describing trade wars as good. The evidence, however, points to the fact than many countries, including the... 

FIRED IN ANGER

ALARM BELLS

By: Darlene Creamer     16th March 2018 Warning lights should be flashing across South Africa in light of recent comments made by Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) commander in chief Julius Malema. Given Malema’s partiality for the outrageous, many are simply dismissing the “cutting the throat of whiteness” rhetoric as mere political... 

ALARM BELLS

ART OF THE POSSIBLE

By: Darlene Creamer     9th March 2018 There are mixed feelings across society about President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet appointments. His economic ‘dream team’ has been tainted by some nightmarish compromises. The appointments serve to highlight that politics is, and most probably always will be, nothing more than the art of the... 

ART OF THE POSSIBLE

WANNA TURN IT AROUND

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd March 2018 It certainly won’t last forever, but there is definitely a new mood of cooperation and optimism in the air since Cyril Ramaphosa because the fifth president of South Africa’s democratic era. His decision to align his nascent presidency with that of the country’s greatest statesman, Nelson... 

WANNA TURN IT AROUND
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