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HOME TO ROOST

By: Darlene Creamer     1st July 2022 The electricity crisis has been casting a confidence-sapping shadow over the South African economy for nearly 15 years. The chickens of Eskom debt, corruption and inefficiency, policy mixed signals, regulatory bottlenecks and procurement delays have been roosting for some time and have been... 

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TIED DOWN

By: Darlene Creamer     24th June 2022 South Africa’s mining production plummeted by nearly 15% year-on-year in April, with gold production slumping 27.8%, platinum group metals output shrinking 22.6% and coal production falling 14.7%. The poor performance has been attributed to strikes, electricity and rail disruptions, and ongoing... 

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DEADLY & DEMORALISING

By: Darlene Creamer     17th June 2022 South Africans are dealing with many burdens currently: rising food and fuel prices; load-shedding; finding ways to recover from Covid disruptions professionally and personally; and a toxic political climate. Adding to these worries is the rising threat of violent crime, as reflected in the... 

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THROUGH THE ROOF

By: Darlene Creamer     10th June 2022 The outlook for food price inflation is deeply worrying, with Tiger Brands CEO Noel Doyle warning recently that the price of certain food items could “go through the roof”. Even more worrying are warnings that the shortages of grain and fertiliser, caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, could... 

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BRIGHT SPARK

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd June 2022 The City of Johannesburg’s Executive Mayor, Mpho Phalatse, has become something of a bright spark despite the ongoing load-shedding gloom. Phalatse has outlined a new vision for City Power and has indicated that the city will seek to partner with independent power producers on a R26-billion... 

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DARK DAYS

By: Darlene Creamer     27th May 2022 There is no question that South Africans are far better prepared for rotational power cuts than they were when the scourge first appeared some 14 years ago. Eskom has regular and brutally candid briefings, load-shedding schedules are more or less accurate and the EskomSePush App ubiquitous.... 

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COLD & DARK

By: Darlene Creamer     20th May 2022 Eskom has given its assurance that it will do what it can to limit rotational power cuts during the winter months. There are signs, however, that this winter could be both cold and dark. The under-maintained coal fleet is simply in no state to offer reliable supply and South Africa has not... 

COLD & DARK

EXTREME PRESSURE

By: Darlene Creamer     13th May 2022 Recent developments in South Africa, especially the deadly July 2021 riots and the horrific KwaZulu-Natal floods, have seriously undermined confidence in the future. The negative effects of these developments are being amplified by a series of international factors – including horrific conflicts,... 

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HANGING TOUGH

By: Darlene Creamer     6th May 2022 Consumer inflation nudged the upper end of South Africa’s 3% to 6% target band in March when it reached 5.9%, and it is expected to rise further. In a context of low growth and high unemployment, questions will naturally arise about the wisdom of holding on to a target, which will required yet... 

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SHAMEFUL GOVERNANCE

By: Darlene Creamer     29th April 2022 Chinese philosopher Confucius is said to have expressed the following about governance: “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” In South Africa, where governance is now equated with money and... 

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WORRYING RISE

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd April 2022 The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s gauge of global food prices rose at a record pace in March, fuelled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the United Nations body has warned of further increases to come. Food inflation in South Africa also continues to accelerate, with the Bureau for Food... 

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SLOTS FOR SALE

By: Darlene Creamer     15th April 2022 State-owned freight logistics group Transnet is turning to the private sector in a bid to revive the fortunes of two underperforming rail corridors. The group’s rail unit has officially launched a bidding process for 16 rail slots on both the container corridor from Durban to City Deep and its... 

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EXPLOSIVE SHACKLES

By: Darlene Creamer     8th April 2022 South Africa’s official unemployment rate rose to a record 35.3% in the fourth quarter of 2021. The Quarterly Labour Force Survey showed that the number of unemployed people increased by 278 000 to 7.9-million. It’s a terrifying figure. Even more terrifying, however, is a youth unemployment rate... 

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HIKED TO HURT

By: Darlene Creamer     1st April 2022 While nothing even resembling the pain being experienced by Ukrainians living in towns and cities being attacked by the Russian military, South Africans are not immune from the economic hurt flowing from the invasion. Fuel prices will rise sharply again in April after having already surged in the... 

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INFLATION MONSTER

By: Darlene Creamer     25th March 2022 After a relatively long hibernation, the inflation monster is awake and ready to eat the income and wealth of all citizens, poor and rich alike. Initially awakened by uneven supply-chain recovery efforts following the Covid lockdowns, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has poked the monster further.... 

INFLATION MONSTER

SHAMEFUL

By: Darlene Creamer     18th March 2022 While it’s not difficult to point out the West’s hypocrisy in its response to Russia’s vicious invasion of Ukraine, South Africa’s own response has been shameful. The decision to abstain in a United Nations vote condemning Russia has been rationalised on the basis on this country’s commitment to... 

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CROSSING THE LINE

By: Darlene Creamer     11th March 2022 Russian President Vladimir Putin made the world a less safe place than it already was when he authorised the invasion of his democratic neighbour on February 24 on the false pretexts of “demilitarisation and de-Nazification”. The steep escalation in tensions when Russian troops crossed the... 

CROSSING THE LINE: Russian President Vladimir Putin made the world a less safe place than it already was when he authorised the invasion of his democratic neighbour on February 24 on the false pretexts of “demilitarisation and de-Nazification”. The steep escalation in tensions when Russian troops crossed the Ukraine borders from the north, east and south, steepened further when Putin placed Russia’s nuclear deterrent on high alert. The fallout has been felt in the form of civilian deaths, a growing humanitarian crisis, the roiling of energy markets and in diplomatic confusion, especially among the democratic members of the Brics bloc, including South Africa.

BREAKING POINT

By: Darlene Creamer     4th March 2022 Some of the crime statistics included in the report covering the third quarter of the 2021/22 fiscal year are beyond upsetting. South Africa recorded 6 859 murders in the three-month period, up from 6 279 in the corresponding period of 2020, while 9 556 people were raped. Yet, instead of an... 

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RED-TAPE ALERT

By: Darlene Creamer     25th February 2022 For several years, government has been promising to cut the unnecessary red tape undermining entrepreneurship and stifling investment. For this reason, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointment of business luminary Sipho Nkosi as his red-tape-reduction czar has been welcomed. That welcome has been... 

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DEATHLY ROOTS

By: Darlene Creamer     18th February 2022 There is nothing startling in the report of the expert panel appointed to review government’s response to the July 2021 civil unrest. It confirms that factional politics is now having deadly consequences, that poverty and inequality are dry tinder just waiting for a spark and that our public... 

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THE PPE WE NEED NOW

By: Darlene Creamer     11th February 2022 The final Special Investigating Unit report into fraud and corruption linked to the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as other works and services purchased in response to Covid, makes for grim reading. The report deals with contracts valued collectively at over... 

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PRICE SHOCK

By: Darlene Creamer     4th February 2022 As expected, none of the non-Eskom stakeholders who made oral representations to the energy regulator on Eskom’s request for a 20.5% increase had any sympathy for such a hike. Doubly so given the context of a weak economic outlook, rising unemployment and deepening poverty. That said, many of the... 

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ENSNARED BY AMBITION

By: Darlene Creamer     28th January 2022 Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s deeply offensive and unsubstantiated attack on the judiciary and her undermining of a constitution that she has taken an oath to defend has all the hallmarks of an overly ambitious politician who cynically believes that ends (securing the ANC presidency in this... 

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DUSTBIN OF HISTORY

By: Darlene Creamer     21st January 2022 South Africa simply cannot afford a repeat of 2021 this year. Further delays in dealing with the country’s big problems of load-shedding, economic and social crime, vaccine hesitancy and, most worryingly, a growth rate that is too low to make a dent into chronic unemployment will set the scene... 

South Africa simply cannot afford a repeat of 2021 this year. Further delays in dealing with the country’s big problems of load-shedding, economic and social crime, vaccine hesitancy and, most worryingly, a growth rate that is too low to make a dent into chronic unemployment will set the scene for the type of deadly instability that gripped the country in July last year. Decisive policymaking and diligent implementation are the only ways to confine 2021 to the dustbin of history.

(OMI)NOUS OR SIGNAL?

By: Darlene Creamer     10th December 2021 Given patchy global vaccination penetration and ongoing hesitancy at home, the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant was as inevitable as the fourth wave. Far less inevitable is the health risk posed by Omicron. Especially if there is stricter adherence to the proven nonpharmaceutical protocols and... 

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RUNGS OF HELL

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd December 2021 South Africa’s deep electricity crisis has its genesis not in the past 18 months and not even in the past decade, although it was definitely made worse by the toxic State-capture years and maintenance neglect. The crisis can be traced back to policy and regulatory missteps that date all the way... 

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MOVE ON

By: Darlene Creamer     26th November 2021 Despite the advanced age of Eskom’s coal fleet, coal power will remain a significant part of the domestic electricity mix for many years yet, with the new Medupi and Kusile stations having extended coal’s horizon by decades. South Africa should not be planning to build any new coal capacity,... 

MOVE ON: Despite the advanced age of Eskom’s coal fleet, coal power will remain a significant part of the domestic electricity mix for many years yet, with the new Medupi and Kusile stations having extended coal’s horizon by decades. South Africa should not be planning to build any new coal capacity, however. This is not only because of the environmental and climate impacts, but because such plants would only add to South Africa’s already steeply rising cost of electricity. What’s more, they are going to be hard, if not impossible, to finance.

ENERGY SAPPING

By: Darlene Creamer     19th November 2021 There is no quick fix for South Africa’s growth- and confidence-sapping bouts of load-shedding. The coal fleet has been run too hard for too long and maintenance neglected. South Africa’s stop/start procurement of new electricity means that the capacity needed to support stable operations amid... 

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HARD HAT

By: Darlene Creamer     12th November 2021 Besides being known as the ultimate African National Congress insider, Enoch Godongwana, South Africa’s new Finance Minister, is also known for wearing homburg hats, often with the feather on the side. With his maiden Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement behind him, it appears that holding the... 

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ENERGY SQUEEZE

By: Darlene Creamer     5th November 2021 Scottish rock band Stealers Wheel, sang about ‘Clowns to the left of me! Jokers to the right!’ in their 1970s hit song ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’. At the tail-end of 2021, South African consumers are equally stuck in the middle . . . of an energy crunch. With load-shedding to the left and... 

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FLATTEN THE CURVE

By: Darlene Creamer     29th October 2021 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group 1 report, which assesses the physical science basis for climate change, points to a near-linear relationship between cumulative human-generated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and the global warming they cause. The report also... 

FLATTEN THE CURVE

LEAP OF LOGIC 

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd October 2021 While President Cyril Ramaphosa was urging investors to embrace green energy and calling on rich countries to support developed country energy transitions with concessional finance, his Mineral Resources and Energy Minister was jumping to a very different conclusion. Gwede Mantashe said green... 

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REGULATORY RUCTIONS:

By: Darlene Creamer     15th October 2021 The decision of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) to reject Eskom’s revenue applications for the three-year period from 2022/23 to 2024/25 has created ructions. The decision is based on the fact that Nersa is reviewing the current methodology, which it says has failed to... 

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NEW BARRIER

By: Darlene Creamer     8th October 2021 South Africans were rightly upset by the opaque, and seemingly non-scientific reasoning, behind the UK government’s recent decision to keep the country on its Covid Red List. The country’s exports could face similar seemingly unfair treatment as the European Union prepares to implement a tariffs... 

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VOTER HESITANCY

By: Darlene Creamer     1st October 2021 Vaccine hesitancy is not the only form of hesitancy troubling South Africans. Many eligible voters are deeply uncertain about how best to exercise their November 1 municipal vote, despite chronic power, water, pothole, and refuse problems, as well as a never-ending stream of corruption scandals.... 

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APP(Y) DAYS

By: Darlene Creamer     24th September 2021 With signs of waning vaccine uptake, South Africa is set to join a growing list of countries that require either digital or physical proof of vaccination before an individual can participate in certain activities. Since August, France has stipulated that a Passe Sanitaire QR-code is required for... 

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VOTING FOR MANDATES

By: Darlene Creamer     17th September 2021 The announcement of South Africa’s municipal election date more or less coincided with Discovery’s announcement that the company intended moving to a mandatory Covid vaccination policy from January 1. The move will not make CEO Adrian Gore popular with everyone, especially in a context of ongoing... 

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FISSI(ON) THE MENU

By: Darlene Creamer     10th September 2021 Moves to open the way for 2 500 MW of new nuclear capacity raises a menu of questions. If new nuclear is affordable, why is there no allocation for it in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)? If it’s designed to replace power from Inga, why is there not a broader IRP overhaul to test the least-cost... 

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