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STAPLE (INDUSTRIAL) DIET

By: Darlene Creamer     26th February 2010 That fluffy maize meal porridge known as ‘pap' is a staple diet in many South African households. And, if Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies has his way, the second version of the Industrial Policy Action Plan, or ‘Ipap2', will become the staple diet for those industrialists willing to buy... 

STRETCHED TO THE LIMIT

By: Darlene Creamer     19th February 2010 The life of a polygamist is surely taxing enough. But to have serial extracultural (and extramarital) relations over and above that is not only morally questionable, but must simply be chaotic! Can President Jacob Zuma truly find the time to conduct the very serious work of government with his... 

PACESETTER

By: Darlene Creamer     12th February 2010 Twenty years ago yesterday (February 11, 1990), Nelson Mandela made his historic exit from Cape Town's Pollsmore prison, having served some 27 years in jail for his political opposition to apartheid. It was all part of his ‘Long Walk to Freedom', the baton of which he has passed on to the current... 

FEELING POWERLESS

By: Darlene Creamer     5th February 2010 Despite the fact that the National Energy Regulator ran an impeccable public participation process around Eskom's tariff application, many South Africans feel somewhat powerless in the face of what now appears to be inevitable price spikes. For sure, South Africans have not treated this low-cost... 

NO SIGN OF THAW

By: Darlene Creamer     29th January 2010 Internal power struggles are nothing new for the African National Congress-led tripartite alliance, which also comprises the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions. Nevertheless, it has been quite incredible to see just how quickly things have chilled between... 

WHAT CRISIS?

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd January 2010 It was inevitable that the untidy anti-Thabo Mbeki coalition, comprised largely of the then marginalised left and disaffected nationalists, would, at some point, fracture into its constituent parts. Arguably, the only surprise is the pace at which it is taking place. Less surprising, though, is... 

RAMPANT RAND

By: Darlene Creamer     15th January 2010 The South African rand posted its biggest yearly gain since 2003 last year, making it the second-best-performing currency in 2009 after the Brazilian real. The rand's strength has been attributed largely to the so-called ‘carry trade', with investors borrowing cheaply and investing in... 

POWER SAVER

By: Darlene Creamer     11th December 2009 Years of cheap electricity have made South Africans relativelywasteful. But that pricing scenario is set to change quite dramatically over the next decade and there is going to be an ever-increasing incentive to save. In fact, Eskom is counting on that, having set a savings target of 8,5 TWh in... 

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE . . .

By: Darlene Creamer     4th December 2009 Infighting within the ruling political alliance of the African National Congress, the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions is nothing new. It is also not new for these fights to become personal - just ask former President Thabo Mbeki. But what is somewhat... 

HORRENDOUS RENDITION

By: Darlene Creamer     27th November 2009 The Young Communist League of South Africa was fast off the mark in condemning Ras Dumisane's "horrendous" rendition of the South African national anthem, which he delivered in an "organically" fuelled howl ahead of South Africa's defeat to France in a rugby test match, in Toulouse, earlier in... 

THE OTHER POWER STRUGGLE

By: Darlene Creamer     20th November 2009 If 2008 was the year of load-shedding at Eskom, then surely 2009 will go down as the year of leader shedding. Enough said! 

IN THE OINTMENT

By: Darlene Creamer     13th November 2009 The ‘nationalisation' fly in the ruling party's ointment has not gone away, nor has the fly himself, we suppose. But the swatters came out last week with two senior government officials and two African National Congress (ANC) bigwigs, including the secretary-general, suggesting that "no ANC... 

BALANCING ACT

By: Darlene Creamer     6th November 2009 Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan had the difficult task of presenting South Africa's first recessionary budget in 17 years last week. In doing so, he had to balance the aspirations of the left for a more interventionist, ‘developmental' State with the need to sustain the country's macroeconomic... 

LIGHT AND HEAT

     30th October 2009 Eskom chairperson Bobby Godsell attempted last week to shed ‘light' and reduce the ‘heat' on the issues surrounding the utility's controversial application for tariff increases of 45% a year from April 1, 2010, through to March 31, 2013. Despite this laudable attempt at transparency, many South... 

TRIPLE WHAMMY

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd October 2009 Eskom has yet to receive exactly what it has asked for from the regulator when it comes to tariff increases. But, although its application for adjustments of 45% a year for three years has sparked the usual adverse reaction, there is also something of a sense of resignation. Power-wary South... 

RIDING ROUGHSHOD

By: Darlene Creamer     16th October 2009 A foreign businessperson based in South Africa posed an interesting question at a recent function: "My experience of Africa so far is that disrespect of elders is not tolerated . . . whether one is an African communist, or an African traditionalist, my understanding is that such behaviour... 

RIDING ROUGHSHOD

By: Darlene Creamer     16th October 2009 A foreign businessperson based in South Africa posed an interesting question at a recent function: "My experience of Africa so far is that disrespect of elders is not tolerated... whether one is an African communist, or an African traditionalist, my understanding is that such behaviour attracts... 

THE COLOUR OF POWER

By: Darlene Creamer     9th October 2009 The powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is none too pleased with the Green Paper published recently by Trevor Manuel, the Minister in the Presidency responsible for the National Planning Commission. While the creation of the commission itself was viewed as a major victory for... 

KNOTTED

     2nd October 2009 Given the amount of outside interest, it seems that the "on again, off again" deal between MTN, of South Africa, and Bharti Airtel, of India, has become pretty serious. But this interest, most of it politically charged, has also meant that, while the transaction is wireless in theory, it will... 

CALL WAITING

By: Darlene Creamer     25th September 2009 It is simply too early to be cynical about President Jacob Zuma's telephone hotline, launched earlier this month. But we sure can think of a few organisations that could do worse than picking up the phone: perhaps, Athletics South Africa could use some wise counsel on its embarrassing handling of... 

ONCOMING TRAIN

By: Darlene Creamer     18th September 2009 As if Transnet didn't have enough challenges already simply raising volumes, securing capital for an R80,5-billion investment programme and rooting out inefficiencies, well, now it also has a highly political leadership struggle - and just when it was looking like light at the end of the tunnel... 

UNINTENDED WEIGHT

By: Darlene Creamer     11th September 2009 Be careful what you wish for! Yes, South African companies have proved over and over again that they are more than willing to engage in destructive anticompetitive behaviour. But whether the so-called beefing up of the legislation through the newly signed amendment to the Competition Act will... 

WHAT SHAPE THE RECOVERY?

     4th September 2009 There seems to be consensus that the battered global economy is starting to recover. There is far less agreement, though, on what shape that recovery will take. A few optimists think it will be ‘V' shaped, most believe it will be a ‘U', but one leading economists, Nouriel Roubini, who forecast... 

BLITZED

By: Darlene Creamer     28th August 2009 It was confirmed last week that South Africa's economy contracted for a third consecutive quarter between April 1 and June 30, with the manufacturing sector providing the main drag on growth. Just how and when this economy's productive sector is going to recover from the blitz is still an open... 

STYLE SLAMMER

By: Darlene Creamer     21st August 2009 There is no harm in being a slave to fashion. But when your private style clashes with your public mission, it's the fashion that has to give. In a society where symbolism still often counts for more than substance, it is entirely inappropriate for our police commissioner to be kitted out more... 

DEBTS AND DEFICITS

By: Darlene Creamer     14th August 2009 There is no question that rapid and far-reaching monetary and fiscal policy has helped stave off what could have been a much deeper and painful economic crisis. But equally, there is a worry about rising government debt and swelling deficits, which could weigh down the recovery for years to come.  

REBUILDING

     7th August 2009 The first half of 2009 saw South African contractors losing major orders out of the Middle East, in general, and the UAE emirate of Dubai, in particular. But, perhaps, the recent order awarded to Murray & Roberts and its partners is a sign that things are turning, albeit in the more financially... 

AIM . . . FIRE!

By: Darlene Creamer     31st July 2009 The Economist magazine noted recently that, while the Chinese used to call dollars “mei jin”, or “American gold”, their faith in the greenback is waning. And what the Chinese think on this score matters. That’s because it stashes one-third of all global reserves, and dollars make up the bulk of... 

BATTERED AND BRUISED

By: Darlene Creamer     24th July 2009 Many analysts believe that South Africa’s battered manufacturing sector may have reached a turning point, despite the latest Statistics South Africa release showing a 17,1% year-on-year decline in production in May. It points out that the seasonally adjusted month-on-month data was positive, with... 

RISING DEBT

By: Darlene Creamer     17th July 2009 It is already common cause that the world’s most affluent nations will take decades to work off what has been the biggest build-up in debt since World War II. But many developing countries, including South Africa, are also planning to close what will be significant funding gaps arising from their... 

STRONG PERFORMER

By: Darlene Creamer     10th July 2009 The South African rand has been one of the best-performing currencies in the world this year, and last week hit a ten-month high of around R7,67 to the US dollar. But there are still a number of risks to the ballooning currency – some of them external, others internal. There is little question... 

CALL TO THE WORLD

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd July 2009 It might not be the most melodic of noises, but South Africa’s ‘vuvuzela’ has come to symbolise South Africa’s call for the rest of the world to gather at what will be the greatest sporting spectacle on earth: the FIFA World Cup 2010. Despite considerable pressure, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has... 

IN DISTRESS?

By: Darlene Creamer     26th June 2009 There is little question that Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies and Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel have brought a whole new level of seriousness to government’s approach to finding ways of helping companies and sectors made vulnerable by the economic crisis. Whether they will... 

MOWING THE GREEN SHOOTS

By: Darlene Creamer     19th June 2009 True, the green shoots of economic recovery are pretty clear to see. But that does not mean that the world and South African economies are out of peril. Indeed, high levels of indebtedness of households and the rising interest burden of governments, together with rising employment and the threat... 

NICE WHILE IT LASTED

By: Darlene Creamer     12th June 2009 The recent rally in emerging-market equities, the South African rand and a range of commodities, as well as news that China and India continued to grow and that the Australian economy beat all expectations to expand during the fist quarter, provided some welcome respite from the gloom. But we... 

RECESSION WRECKING BALL

By: Darlene Creamer     5th June 2009 The exact numbers may have been worse than expected, but the release of first-quarter gross domestic product figures confirmed what we all already knew: that we were never going to be immune from what can now be described as a global economic crisis. But what was extremely worrying is the... 

ANTITRUST PAY DIRT

By: Darlene Creamer     29th May 2009 South Africa’s competition authorities appear to have struck pay dirt with serial offender Sasol. The chemicals and energy group will have to fork over more than R250-million after admitting that its fertiliser businesses had breached the Competition Act between 1996 and 2005. But a far-ranging... 

BURGEONING INBOX

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd May 2009 South Africa’s new President, Jacob Zuma, comes into office at a fairly inauspicious time. The economy is faltering, jobs are being lost and the signs of recovery are still some way off. Possibly adding to the complexity is a new Cabinet structure that looks somewhat top-heavy when coming to... 

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