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YEARS OF THE CHICKEN

By: Darlene Creamer     17th February 2017 Last year, South Africa “played chicken” with the US, which threatened to withdraw some of the country’s preferential trade access under the African Growth and Opportunity Act unless restraints on American chicken imports were eased. This year, attention has turned to the European Union, whose... 

YEARS OF THE CHICKEN

STORM WARNINGS

By: Darlene Creamer     10th February 2017 The political weather reports have become increasingly extreme over the past year, with storms breaking out almost daily since the Brexit vote. The dangers have grown all the more intense, though, since the shock election of President Donald Trump, whose ‘America First’ mission statement seems... 

STORM WARNINGS

LIFEBOAT IN JEOPARDY

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd February 2017 Debate is raging domestically about the motives behind the resurfacing of the so-called Bankorp/Absa ‘lifeboat’ saga, which dates bank to the dying days of apartheid when the South Africa Reserve Bank governor at the time, Dr Chris Stals, extended unlawful support to Bankorp, which was then... 

LIFEBOAT IN JEOPARDY

SOCIAL MANIA

By: Darlene Creamer     27th January 2017 Social Media has become an increasingly powerful weapon for winning hearts and minds. US President Donald Trump was incredibly effective in using Twitter to shape the election narrative and has given no indication that he intends giving his thumbs a rest during his stay at the White House.... 

SOCIAL MANIA

ANTI-TRADE WINDS

By: Terence Creamer     20th January 2017 Free trade is under attack and anti-trade winds are blowing across the global economy. First there was the surprise Brexit vote, followed by the stunning victory of populist Donald Trump in last year’s US election. Both events point to growing scepticism about the virtues of free trade and... 

ANTI-TRADE WINDS

NEW YEAR RISING

By: Darlene Creamer     16th December 2016 Globally and domestically, 2016 has been a taxing year. South Africa’s economy has stalled, unemployment is on the rise and social and racial tensions abound. Then there have been the political shocks out of the UK and the US to contend with. While there are few signs that 2017 will be a dramatic... 

NEW YEAR RISING

SHORT FUSE

By: Darlene Creamer     9th December 2016 None of the initiatives aimed at unseating President Jacob Zuma have, to date, been sufficient to light the fuse to end his Presidential term. The recent surprise motion of no confidence brought before the African National Congress’ National Executive Committee arguably came the closest. There... 

SHORT FUSE

UNEQUAL PAY

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd December 2016 In the same week that the R3 500-a-month figure was unveiled as the suggested national minimum wage for South Africa, Bloomberg released a survey showing that South African CEOs were the seventh best remunerated globally. In fact, using a ranking that compares CEO pay to income generated per... 

UNEQUAL PAY

NATURAL ANXIETY

By: Darlene Creamer     25th November 2016 The biggest supermoon since 1948, which was on spectacular display last week, offered something of a happy distraction from far less soothing political developments both at home and abroad. One of the major looming uncertainties relates to the election of Donald Trump as America’s forty-fifth... 

NATURAL ANXIETY

STORM WARNINGS

By: Darlene Creamer     18th November 2016 Political developments around the world continue to shock and surprise. The astonishing election of Donald Trump as the next President of the US, followed only months after the bombshell Brexit vote in the UK. South Africa, similarly, has various political storms of its own under way. Talk about... 

STORM WARNINGS

EGG ON FACE 

By: Darlene Creamer     11th November 2016 The credibility of the National Prosecuting Authority and the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, is at an all-time low following the institution and subsequent withdrawal of dubious fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Likewise, the Hawks unit of the South... 

EGG ON FACE

EXACTING A TOLL

By: Darlene Creamer     4th November 2016 Developments in South Africa’s political, economic and social environments are becoming increasingly difficult for South Africans to bear. The violent disruptions at tertiary institutions, the dubious fraud charges against the Finance Minister and the ongoing weakness of the economy are just some... 

EXACTING A TOLL

SHIFTING FUNDAMENTALS

By: Darlene Creamer     28th October 2016 A new comparative analysis by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research shows that the costs associated with wind and solar photovoltaic plants in South Africa are now materially below all other generation options, including coal. It is a development that will surely have to be taken... 

SHIFTING FUNDAMENTALS

OWN GOALS

By: Darlene Creamer     21st October 2016 The decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to charge Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, as well as former South African Revenue Service officials Ivan Pillay and Oupa Magashule, with fraud did not come as a massive surprise given the politics that currently pollutes not only the NPA,... 

OWN GOALS

HARD CHOICES

By: Darlene Creamer     14th October 2016 Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will release the 2016 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement on October 26. Much attention will no doubt be paid to whether government is holding the fiscal-consolidation line without hurting growth prospects – both key elements for staving off the dreaded year-end... 

HARD CHOICES

ECONOMIC OXYGEN

By: Darlene Creamer     7th October 2016 In the absence of confidence, economies stagnate, jobs are not created and investment stalls. For South Africa, the rebuilding of confidence is not only vital for dealing with its serious unemployment and poverty problems, but also to stave off a downgrade to junk in the short term. Sadly, much... 

ECONOMIC OXYGEN

BIG SHOES

By: Darlene Creamer     30th September 2016 South Africa’s much-loved Public Protector Thuli Madonsela will make way for Busisiwe Mkhwebane when her term ends next month. Madonsela succeeded, against all the odds, in elevating the Chapter 9 institution to a level few could have imagined when she assumed office in 2009. The net result is... 

BIG SHOES

EXPECT FALLOUT 

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd September 2016 The South African government’s decision to press ahead with the release of a request for proposals from nuclear vendors is likely to face social and political fallout. This is particularly so as the tender is being released at a time when demand is flat to falling and given that there appears to... 

EXPECT FALLOUT

DOWNGRADE DEADLINE

By: Darlene Creamer     16th September 2016 The welcome announcement by Statistics South Africa that the domestic economy expanded by 3.3% in the second quarter was immediately tempered by warnings that the economy is still likely to move sideways for 2016 as a whole. In other words, the ratings agencies will be looking for signals... 

DOWNGRADE DEADLINE

POOR GOVERNANCE COSTS

By: Darlene Creamer     9th September 2016 News that South African fixed-income asset manager Futuregrowth has stopped lending to some State-owned companies highlights the very real risks that lenders are now seeing as a result of governance breakdowns at these firms. Futuregrowth was particularly concerned about developments at Eskom,... 

POOR GOVERNANCE COSTS

SPECTRUM SPECTRE

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd September 2016 Whether or not the creation of a ‘Broadband War Room’ will put paid to the legal dispute between Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa over the auctioning of much –needed spectrum was far from clear at the time... 

SPECTRUM SPECTRE

SOLAR SYNERGY

By: Darlene Creamer     26th August 2016 While there are still a number of critics of Elon Musk’s $2.6-billion move to merge electric car and battery maker Tesla with struggling SolarCity, the serial entrepreneur’s vision for the merged entity seems compelling. SolarCity’s rooftop solar panels will produce enough electricity to store in... 

SOLAR SYNERGY

MYTHS BUSTED

By: Darlene Creamer     19th August 2016 Urban voters shattered a number of electoral myths during the recent local government elections. President Jacob Zuma’s much-quoted mantra that the African National Congress (ANC) would rule until “Jesus returns” became the source of some derision as the party lost voter support in key... 

MYTHS BUSTED

ELUSIVE GROWTH

By: Darlene Creamer     12th August 2016 Without far higher levels of economic growth, South Africa will have little chance of dealing with its serious social problems of unemployment, poverty and inequality. Sadly, it appears less and less likely that South Africa will grow at all during 2016, while the 5%-plus target contained in the... 

ELUSIVE GROWTH

RENEWABLE RUCTIONS

By: Darlene Creamer     5th August 2016 Simmering tensions between Eskom and renewable-energy independent power producers (IPPs) burst into the open last month, when the State-owned utility sent a letter to the Energy Minister indicating that it would not connect any further IPPs until it had consultations. The outcome of the power... 

RENEWABLE RUCTIONS

FREE, FAIR & PEACEFUL

By: Darlene Creamer     29th July 2016 With countdowns to the Rio Olympics and South Africa’s municipal elections truly under way, issues of fairness are top of mind. Following less than harmonious run-ups, the actual events will hopefully make for far more pleasant viewing. In South Africa free, fair and, most importantly, peaceful... 

FREE, FAIR & PEACEFUL

NOT SO SWEET

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd July 2016 The National Treasury has released draft details of its proposed sugar tax amid concerns form some quarters about the efficacy of such a tax in dealing with the scourge of obesity. What is apparent – to the cynics anyway – is that the introduction of a new tax could help fatten government... 

NOT SO SWEET

PUBLIC RUCTIONS

By: Darlene Creamer     15th July 2016 Be it the South African Broadcasting Corporation, South African Airways, or Eskom State-owned companies are never far from controversy or conflict. Having remained somewhat out of sight in recent years, the Strategic Fuel Fund has been the latest headline grabber. Firstly, it surprised many by... 

PUBLIC RUCTIONS

FUNDING GAP

By: Darlene Creamer     8th July 2016 There is little question that government is correct to aspire to a different model for the funding of healthcare, with serious efforts needed to close the current gap in the quality of service available to rich and poor South Africans. However, there is concern that government may be... 

FUNDING GAP

SWITCHED ON

By: Darlene Creamer     1st July 2016 Increasingly, access to the Internet is being seen not merely as a nice to have, but as an essential social, educational and economic tool. Last month, the world celebrated ‘World Wi-Fi Day’ on June 20. Some providers marked the occasion by extending free services for a short period. No doubt a... 

SWITCHED ON

STIMULUS NEEDED

By: Darlene Creamer     24th June 2016 Despite recent reprieves from three credit rating agencies, it is painfully clear that South Africa is not out of the woods, with further reviews likely before year-end. Cabinet itself has noted that the June affirmations simply provide the country with the “necessary space” to continue... 

STIMULUS NEEDED

REPRIEVE NOT RELIEF

By: Darlene Creamer     17th June 2016 As highlighted by a number of commentators – and acknowledged by government itself – the recent reprieve given to South Africa by S&P Global Ratings is but the ‘end of the beginning’. The initiatives being pursued jointly by government, business and labour will have to be implemented to ensure... 

REPRIEVE NOT RELIEF

TOP OF MIND

By: Darlene Creamer     10th June 2016 How can South Africa reignite economic growth? That’s the question occupying the minds of policymakers and business leaders. It’s generally accepted that growth alone cannot fully address the problems of unemployment, poverty and inequality. However, without growth, South Africa has no chance of... 

TOP OF MIND

ON THE BRINK

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd June 2016 Standard & Poor’s releases its much anticipated ratings review of South Africa today. The agency currently rates South Africa at BBB- and on negative watch – only one notch above junk. By the time to see this, you may well know the answer the question posed above: “Will it be Recession or... 

ON THE BRINK

DANGEROUS TERRITORY

By: Darlene Creamer     27th May 2016 Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s letter following news of his possible arrest made for frightening reading. These paragraphs were particularly unsettling: “It is indeed true, that no one is above the law. But no one should be subjected to the manipulation of the law and agencies for ulterior... 

DANGEROUS TERRITORY

SMALL BUSINESS LIFELINE

By: Darlene Creamer     20th May 2016 News that government and business would be launching a fund to support small businesses is indeed welcome, particularly in light of the country’s dismal employment performance in the first quarter. However, it should not distract government from dealing with some of the more fundamental... 

SMALL BUSINESS LIFELINE

LOCALISATION CROSSROADS

By: Darlene Creamer     13th May 2016 For some time now, there have been grumblings about the failure of some rail original equipment manufacturers to live up to their local-content commitments. Now that the issue is receiving much needed public attention, it is vital that steps are taken to either ensure that the localisation... 

LOCALISATION CROSSROADS

STEEL SQUEEZE

By: Darlene Creamer     6th May 2016 There is little question that the steel industry is taking strain globally, owing to too much supply chasing too little demand. In South Africa, however, an anomalous situation has arisen: prices are recovering and there are even shortages of some long-steel products. Unless well managed, the... 

STEEL SQUEEZE
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