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LAST NAIL, BUT . . . :

By: Darlene Creamer     17th February 2012 The African National Congress’s (ANC’s) long-awaited report into mine nationalisation may officially still be a ‘study without status’. But it most certainly can be seen as the beginning of the end for a policy proposal that would have been an ‘unmitigated disaster’ for the South African economy... 

LAST NAIL, BUT . . . :

MIND THE APP

By: Darlene Creamer     10th February 2012 In January, Apple launched its iBooks textbooks for the iPad tablet, leaving school authorities globally to consider whether or not to adopt such materials. Some South African schools have already decided to take the leap, with many of the early adopters being the more well-heeled independent... 

MIND THE APP

TURNING OFF THE TAPS

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd February 2012 Internal African National Congress politics aside, most South Africans are relieved that the National Treasury is finally taking active steps to deal with poor financial controls, fraud and corruption in Limpopo. It is unfortunate that the intervention has become politically tainted, which is why... 

TURNING OFF THE TAPS

Screeching Halt:

By: Darlene Creamer     27th January 2012 The proposed February implementation date for the controversial Gauteng e-tolling system was unceremoniously scrapped in early January by the newly appointed South African National Roads Agency Limited board. No promise was made about abandoning tolling entirely, though. Instead, the board said... 

Screeching Halt:

ENTER THE DRAGON:

By: Darlene Creamer     20th January 2012 The Chinese New Year, which will be celebrated on January 23, will herald the start of the ‘Year of the Dragon’ – one of the 12 animals featured in the Chinese zodiac. The dragon is considered especially auspicious and it is, thus, expected that many Chinese families may seek to bear a child... 

ENTER THE DRAGON:

SUNSET CLAUSE

By: Darlene Creamer     16th December 2011 As the sun sets on 2011, there is already an economic disclaimer attached to prospects for 2012 – and it’s not even in the fine print. Every newspaper, every economic commentator and just about every politician is warning that it’s going to be a tough year. The eurozone crisis will continue to... 

SUNSET CLAUSE

FEELING EMPOWERED

By: Darlene Creamer     9th December 2011 A total of 6 209 Kumba Iron Ore workers became pretax half millionaires last week, when the JSE-listed group paid out R2.7-billion as part of the first phase of an employee share ownership plan, or Esop. What is more is that all the beneficiaries are below the managerial level. The success of the... 

FEELING EMPOWERED

BLACKOUT TUESDAY

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd December 2011 There is no doubt that the Justice Portfolio Committee did some sound work in refashioning the Protection of State Information Bill into something that was almost acceptable.  

BLACKOUT TUESDAY

NATIONALISATION RIP

By: Darlene Creamer     25th November 2011 It seems the nails are finally being hammered into the mine nationalisation coffin. Not only does the proposed policy of nationalisation without compensation run counter to South Africa’s Constitution and the country’s prevailing mining legislation, but it is also hitting political and societal... 

NATIONALISATION RIP

TOLL TUSSLE

By: Darlene Creamer     18th November 2011 The fight over the implementation of the Gauteng toll roads entered a new phase last week. The Department of Transport and the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) seemed to be singing from the same hymn sheet in terms of the system going ahead. But the confusion caused by... 

TOLL TUSSLE

BUY SOUTH AFRICAN

By: Darlene Creamer     11th November 2011 Government, business, labour and community organisations signed a potentially far-reaching ‘buy local’ accord last week. An aspirational target of 75% was set for local procurement by government, State-owned entities and even business (but on a voluntary basis). Defining what exactly constitutes... 

BUY SOUTH AFRICAN

POLICY RESERVE

By: Darlene Creamer     4th November 2011 The headline from the latest Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, released by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan last week, was the rise in the deficit to help support the economy, which had lost momentum. But there was also a strong underlying theme of wanting to rebuild a fiscal policy reserve,... 

POLICY RESERVE

NO LIFEBOAT

By: Darlene Creamer     28th October 2011 A Nedgroup Investment report estimates that corporate deposits stood at a whopping R470-billion in June. But, given the prevailing uncertainty about prospects for the domestic and the global economy, there is little chance that this cash will be deployed as part of any countercyclical stimulus... 

NO LIFEBOAT

POWER DELAY

By: Darlene Creamer     21st October 2011 Eskom confirmed last week that the first unit at its 4 800 MW Medupi power station project, in Limpopo, may not be delivered by the end of next year as planned. Whether any delay will result in the lights going off or not will depend materially on the outlook for economic growth. Should South... 

POWER DELAY

TROUBLED TIMES

By: Darlene Creamer     14th October 2011 The news flow changes from day to day and markets are reacting, mostly negatively, to the slightest hint of possible new risks. Sadly, the double-dip threat appears increasingly real and the lack of clarity from the eurozone about how it plans to prevent Greece’s woes from spreading has done... 

TROUBLED TIMES

TURNING THE TABLES

By: Darlene Creamer     7th October 2011 For years, leaders in Africa, Asia and Latin America were forced to doggedly implement painful, sometimes poisonous, structural adjustment programmes to reduce debt and improve financial management. Now it’s the turn of leaders in Europe and the US to do likewise, the African delegates to the... 

TURNING THE TABLES

GATHERING STORM

By: Darlene Creamer     30th September 2011 The eurozone debt cloud continues to hang menacingly over the world economy. Last week, the level of distress was raised another notch when Standard & Poor’s cut its unsolicited ratings on Italy, which is far larger than the highly vulnerable Greek economy. The downgrade placed yet more pressure... 

GATHERING STORM

MOVING ON

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd September 2011 South African energy group Sasol confirmed last week that it had decided to pull back from a coal-to-liquids project it had been pursuing in China together with the Shenhua Ningxia Coal Industry Group. New CEO David Constable insisted that the group was still keen on pursuing growth in the... 

MOVING ON

FALLING SAFE:

By: Darlene Creamer     16th September 2011 During the first weeks of this month, the global markets were akin to a falling safe, which nobody was prepared to catch. More worryingly, the gloom in the financial markets was also increasingly being reflected in the real economy. The fall in South African business confidence, together with... 

FALLING SAFE:

CHANGE AND PAIN

By: Darlene Creamer     9th September 2011 The political momentum, which began in Tunisia and swept through much of North Africa and the Middle East, became unstoppable in Libya towards the end of August as the rebels swept into Tripoli and as the international community began recognising the National Transitional Council. But this change... 

CHANGE AND PAIN

ECONOMIC ROLLER COASTER:

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd September 2011 Fears that the world economy is headed for a ‘double-dip recession’ have resurfaced in recent weeks. Low-growth prospects, together with high sovereign debt in Europe and the US, are weighing on sentiment and on markets. The only real beneficiary has been gold, the price of which has breached... 

ECONOMIC ROLLER COASTER:

FIGHT GOES ON:

By: Darlene Creamer     26th August 2011 The biggest squabble in town is undoubtedly the infighting within the African National Congress, the outcome of which will determine whether or not President Jacob Zuma will remain leader after the elective conference of 2012. But the second-biggest probably relates to the ongoing fight over... 

FIGHT GOES ON:

REALITY CHECK:

By: Darlene Creamer     19th August 2011 The world’s stock markets, which fell dramatically in early August, offered an outward sign of growing internal angst about prospects of a ‘double dip’ recession. But in South Africa, there is also growing concern about our future competitiveness. The power price path is out of control, logistics... 

REALITY CHECK:

BODY BLOWS:

By: Darlene Creamer     12th August 2011 African National Congress Youth League president Julius Malema has received a number of body blows over the past few weeks. First, he tried, and failed, to muzzle a City Press article delving into how he finances his lavish lifestyle. Then, his nationalisation rhetoric, which is having a damaging... 

BODY BLOWS:

Batten Down The Hatches:

By: Darlene Creamer     5th August 2011 He may have prevailed in his recent campaign to be re-elected as president of the African National Congress Youth League, but the pressure is mounting on young Julius Malema. His funding of a lavish lifestyle, which includes the construction of a R16-million bachelor pad, are under intense media... 

Batten Down The Hatches:

HUMBLE PIE

29th July 2011 The tabloid press specifically, but also the media, in general, is having to eat some humble pie as Britain’s phone hacking scandal rages on and on. Media practitioners are having to do some real soul searching about their role in society and about whether some serious operational adjustments may... 

HUMBLE PIE

EURO WORRIES:

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd July 2011 Greece’s financial woes have analysts pondering the future of the euro as a currency, as well as the sustainability of the European Union itself. The political management of the crisis has raised all manner of questions, with the most basic now being whether monetary union is indeed possible in... 

EURO WORRIES:

SHIFTING GOALPOSTS

15th July 2011 The South African government gave assurances last week that the renewable-energy industry was unfazed by the prospect of including an element of price competition into the first round of project bidding. But potential developers could not hide their unhappiness. They noted that, in the context of... 

SHIFTING GOALPOSTS

TAXING ISSUE:

By: Darlene Creamer     8th July 2011 South Africa’s coal-heavy power utility burnt 124.7-million tons of coal in 2010/11 and produced 230.3-million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). That means it is incredibly vulnerable to a proposed direct tax on carbon emissions. It has submitted a response to a National Treasury discussion document... 

TAXING ISSUE:

INVESTMENT DEFLATOR

1st July 2011 There is little doubt that the hitherto one-sided debate surrounding the nationalisation of South Africa’s mines, banks and land is starting to exact an insidious toll. The uncompromising tone adopted by the youth wing of the African National Congress (ANC) is slowly, but surely, draining away... 

INVESTMENT DEFLATOR

WINDS OF CHANGE:

By: Darlene Creamer     24th June 2011 Gale-force winds of change blew through the boards of some of South Africa’s key State-owned enterprises earlier this month, with major changes confirmed at both Eskom and Denel. However, the process was undermined by poor communication around the changes, which led to some anxiety and much... 

WINDS OF CHANGE:

CAPE TO CAIRO:

17th June 2011 The Cape-to-Cairo dream may carry some extremely unhappy colonial connotations. But the new ‘grand’ plan for a free-trade bloc, spanning the eastern half of the continent from Egypt to South Africa, bears little resemblance to the ‘Empire building’ rallying call of arch-colonialist Cecil John... 

CAPE TO CAIRO:

OSTRICH MENTALITY

By: Darlene Creamer     10th June 2011 One can hardly believe that it has been a full year since South Africa hosted one of the most spectacular FIFA tournaments in its history. But while this country played its part in salvaging the organisation’s reputation in the face of heavy criticism for daring to move the World Cup to Africa,... 

OSTRICH MENTALITY

FIT FOR PURPOSE:

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd June 2011 South Africa has a new cadre of executive mayors and municipal councillors following the country’s successful municipal elections in May. In fact, some believe the election could emerge as a milestone in the slow but sure reshaping of South African politics into something of a two-party... 

FIT FOR PURPOSE:

INFLATION PRESSURE COOKER:

By: Darlene Creamer     27th May 2011 South African Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus did not mince her words when she cautioned recently that the inflation threat was accelerating. “While inflation appears to be under control, there are increasing risks to the outlook posed by rising global commodity prices, particularly food and... 

INFLATION PRESSURE COOKER:

DARK DEVELOPMENTS:

By: Darlene Creamer     20th May 2011 It emerged earlier this month that Gauteng’s Ekurhuleni municipality has already prepared a load-shedding schedule for the next few winter months, despite continual statements from Eskom and government that it is still possible to avoid load-shedding, notwithstanding system tightness. The dark... 

DARK DEVELOPMENTS:

DESTRUCTIVE:

By: Darlene Creamer     13th May 2011 As the southern US states recover from a deadly month of destructive tornado swarms, South Africa faces another kind of tornado, which could wreak economic devastation: strongly rising fuel prices. Earlier this month, motorists began paying a further 29c/∙ on all grades of petrol, raising the... 

DESTRUCTIVE:

WINTER PEAK

By: Darlene Creamer     6th May 2011 As South Africa approaches midwinter, blackout fears have us in an icy grip. South Africa has managed to avoid rotational load-shedding since April 2008. But the system is ‘tight’ and will remain so for many months yet. Closing the supply-demand gap is going to require a collective effort not... 

WINTER PEAK

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