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OWN GOAL

By: Darlene Creamer     7th May 2021 While football fans, especially in England, were angrily protesting a fatally flawed plan to create a closed-shop super league for a handful of elite European clubs, anger was growing in South Africa over the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP), which is... 

OWN GOAL

ROAD LESS TRAVELLED

By: Darlene Creamer     30th April 2021 South Africa is big on shiny new things, including mega infrastructure projects. The country is less big, however, when it comes to maintaining that infrastructure across its full life cycle. While the recent fire at Johannesburg’s Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital put a spotlight on... 

ROAD LESS TRAVELLED

HIKES & LEVIES

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd April 2021 The fuel price and power tariff hikes implemented at the start of this month bring back painful memories of surging energy prices ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic. They have also placed the spotlight on the additional taxes and levies that are included in South Africa’s fuel prices, as well as the... 

HIKES & LEVIES

END OF THE BEGINNING

By: Darlene Creamer     16th April 2021 There is no question that South Africa has been sluggish in its preparations for a mass vaccination campaign to combat the Covid-19 virus. Nevertheless, the ‘end of the beginning’ is at last in sight, with the procurement of sufficient doses of both the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines to... 

END OF THE BEGINNING

DEBT SHEDDING

By: Darlene Creamer     9th April 2021 The unsustainable nature of Eskom’s debt profile is well known. Less clear, however, is what should be done about it. The State-owned utility has indicated on several occasions that it would be able to wean itself off of ongoing taxpayer support with a debt burden that is half the current level... 

DEBT SHEDDING

ROCK & HARD PLACE

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd April 2021 The ‘Rockman’ statue at the entrance to Eskom’s Megawatt Park head office in Johannesburg exemplifies the current difficult reality facing the State-owned utility. While its maintenance efforts are likely to improve the performance of its coal fleet in the short-term, a good portion of that fleet... 

ROCK & HARD PLACE

(LOCK)DOWN MEMORY LANE

By: Darlene Creamer     26th March 2021 “From midnight on Thursday 26 March until midnight on Thursday 16 April, all South Africans will have to stay at home,” President Cyril Ramaphosa declared on March 23 in the first of what subsequently became known as his Covid-19 ‘family meetings’. With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that... 

(LOCK)DOWN MEMORY LANE

SPILLING THE TEA

By: Darlene Creamer     19th March 2021 The world was captivated, earlier this month, by Oprah Winfrey’s interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, during which some piping hot Earl Grey was most definitely spilled. In South Africa, by contrast, the brew being served and spilled during the now regular... 

SPILLING THE TEA

CLIFF-HANGER

By: Darlene Creamer     12th March 2021 The credibility of Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s 2021 Budget hangs largely on the outcome of upcoming wage negotiations with public sector unions. There are serious doubts as to whether the proposed freeze on increases will be sustained. With the unions seeking inflation-plus hikes, South... 

CLIFF-HANGER

WATER WORRIES

By: Darlene Creamer     5th March 2021 The South African Human Rights Commission’s scathing findings on Emfuleni’s dismal mismanagement of water infrastructure, which has resulted in serious pollution of the Vaal river, Gauteng's most vital water resource, is sadly not an isolated incident. A benchmarking survey of 144 municipal water... 

WATER WORRIES

HEROIC EFFORT

By: Darlene Creamer     26th February 2021 Following the AstraZeneca vaccine setback, the arrival of the first batch of 80 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week was a significant development. Equally significant was the speed at which the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority moved to approve the vaccine so... 

HEROIC EFFORT
HEROIC EFFORT: Following the AstraZeneca vaccine setback, the arrival of the first batch of 80 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week was a significant development. Equally significant was the speed at which the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority moved to approve the vaccine so that it could be rapidly dispatched to vaccination centres ahead of the start of the first phase of the vaccination campaign, which started on February 17. A heroic effort is now needed to secure far more doses so that all 1.3-million healthcare workers can be vaccinated ahead of the much-feared third wave.

PAINFUL JAB

By: Darlene Creamer     19th February 2021 South Africans should probably brace for pain when Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivers his 2021 Budget speech later this month. If he holds to the consolidation path outlined in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, there will be a squeeze from both sides: expenditure cuts and taxes. Some... 

PAINFUL JAB

DAUNTING PROSPECT

By: Darlene Creamer     12th February 2021 South Africans were naturally hoping that 2021 would be better than 2020. Unfortunately, it’s becoming clearer by the day that the obstacles to an economic recovery are even more daunting than initially feared. While the scale of the challenge is already clear for all to see, Finance Minister... 

DAUNTING PROSPECT

INCLEMENT OUTLOOK

By: Darlene Creamer     5th February 2021 Although Cyclone Eloise did not disrupt South Africa’s already load-shedding-prone electricity network as much as initially feared, it nevertheless left serious destruction and death in its wake. It is not the only storm warning facing Southern Africa, however. The region is confronting gale-like... 

INCLEMENT OUTLOOK

AWFUL START

By: Darlene Creamer     29th January 2021 Warnings of a severe Covid-19 second wave could not prevent it from crashing with deadly force onto South Africa in January. The virus spread rapidly partly because of a lack of strict adherence to tiresome, yet crucial, nonpharmaceutical protocols. It was spurred yet further by a new variant,... 

AWFUL START

KEY TO ESCAPE

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd January 2021 The Covid-19 vaccine is the only realistic tool for escaping the deadly stranglehold the virus now has over us. Many South Africans are, thus, right to be concerned at the slow pace of vaccine procurement, as delayed access means delayed administration and a delayed return to full social and... 

KEY TO ESCAPE

BEYOND THE WAVE

By: Darlene Creamer     15th January 2021 South Africa begins 2021 amid the genuine risk of the Covid-19 virus surfing a second deadly wave. In the first half of the year, at least, diligent adherence to the normal nonpharmaceutical precautions will be vital if we are to ensure that business and educational activities are to resume. The... 

BEYOND THE WAVE

ESSENTIAL ACCESSORY

By: Darlene Creamer     11th December 2020 All of us are experiencing pandemic fatigue and are more than ready for a much-needed summer holiday. Despite indications that a vaccine is on the way, it is still not the time to let our guard down. Until the vaccine has been widely deployed, face masks remain the best protection we have against... 

ESSENTIAL ACCESSORY

WE HAVE A PROBLEM

By: Darlene Creamer     4th December 2020 During the early days of television, the South African Broadcasting Corporation would react to signal interruptions by displaying the test pattern and running a voiceover stating: “We have a problem, please be patient!”. There has been massive disruption to the industry since those days and the... 

WE HAVE A PROBLEM

DEEP HOLE

By: Darlene Creamer     27th November 2020 South Africa’s official unemployment rate hit a record high of 30.8% in the third quarter, with the expanded definition of unemployment, which includes discouraged work seekers, rising to a catastrophic 43.1%. Joblessness has been this country’s biggest problem for decades, fuelling the twin... 

DEEP HOLE

OUT OF RUNWAY

By: Darlene Creamer     20th November 2020 It’s now painfully clear that the controversial decision to allocate a further R10.5-billion to South African Airways (SAA) will not be sufficient to get the grounded national carrier flying again. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has indicated that it will be up to the much-vaunted... 

OUT OF RUNWAY

WAVE WARNING

By: Darlene Creamer     13th November 2020 Although many more South Africans may well have contracted Covid-19, absent any symptoms, than the official statistics suggest, we are not out of the woods. Indeed, the holiday season holds perils for the health system that may well only display themselves in early 2021. Yes, a vaccine may be on... 

WAVE WARNING

RADICAL REALIGNMENT

By: Darlene Creamer     6th November 2020 Transnet CEO Portia Derby has promised that the State-owned group will overhaul its approach to the concessioning of port and rail opportunities. Its current model has been deemed far to slow and cumbersome and has yielded only a handful of private-sector participation projects over several... 

RADICAL REALIGNMENT

PLUGGING IN

By: Darlene Creamer     30th October 2020 The Gazette notice amending electricity regulations to allow municipalities in good financial standing to develop or buy their own power could be a game changer. There are concerns, though, that the amendments may be too restrictive, as they require municipalities to jump through several hoops to... 

PLUGGING IN

MISSING INGREDIENTS

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd October 2020 Despite moonlighting as a Twitter chef, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni simply lacks the key ingredients of growth and revenue to make South Africa’s fiscal position appear hearty and healthy. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has precipitated a steep fall in revenue and a surge in debt, is also... 

MISSING INGREDIENTS

CONVICTIONS NEEDED

By: Darlene Creamer     16th October 2020 The recent spate of arrests related to various instances of alleged corruption has been treated with a mixture of delight and circumspection. Despite most of these arrest coming far too late, many citizens are nevertheless pleased to see that action is at last being taken. That delight is tainted... 

CONVICTIONS NEEDED

THE OTHER LOCKDOWN

By: Darlene Creamer     9th October 2020 The move to a Level 1 Covid-19 lockdown, including the opening up of borders, will help the South African economy to begin its painful recovery from the pandemic. The ongoing threat of load-shedding will make it difficult, however, for the country to make a clean break from the low-growth,... 

THE OTHER LOCKDOWN

WALKING A TIGHTROPE

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd October 2020 South Africa has, correctly, transitioned to a Level 1 Covid-19 lockdown, with its healthcare system showing little sign of being overwhelmed and its economy in dire need of a jumpstart. It should not be a signal that the virus no longer poses a threat. This, despite indications that South Africa... 

WALKING A TIGHTROPE

HOSTILE CLIMATE

By: Darlene Creamer     25th September 2020 There have been several signs this year, the most recent being the California wildfires, that the climate crisis is not a mere distant threat, but a clear and present danger. While many factors determine the extent and risk of wildfires, some of these, such as temperature and soil moisture, are... 

HOSTILE CLIMATE

DRAMATIC DROP

By: Darlene Creamer     18th September 2020 The steep contraction in South Africa’s second quarter gross domestic product – 51.2% when annualised and seasonally adjusted and 16.4% quarter on quarter – was not entirely unexpected in light of South Africa’s aggressive Covid-19 lockdown. Less certain, however, is whether there is a coherent... 

DRAMATIC DROP

READY TO SPRING

By: Darlene Creamer     11th September 2020 In a recent interview with Sunday Times, Hermione Cronje, who heads the National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigating Directorate, said that the first charges against high-profile individuals implicated in State capture should be made in September, which is Spring in South Africa. These charges... 

READY TO SPRING

HACKING PANDEMIC

By: Darlene Creamer     4th September 2020 South Africa was hit by a massive data breach in August after Experian, one of the country’s biggest credit bureaus, was hacked. Experian said the personal information details of as many as 24-million South Africans, and nearly 800 000 businesses, were “exposed to a suspected fraudster”. The... 

HACKING PANDEMIC

WAVES OF DESTRUCTION

By: Darlene Creamer     28th August 2020 There may be much talk about a possible Covid-19 second wave, but there is now little doubt that we are in for wave upon wave of confidence-sapping load-shedding. With this scourge having been afflicting South Africa for over a decade and with the energy availability factor from Eskom’s... 

WAVES OF DESTRUCTION

VACCINE RACE

By: Darlene Creamer     21st August 2020 By naming its Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V, Russia did not even attempt to disguise the fact that it views the race for a vaccine as integral to its broader efforts to secure international prestige and a geopolitical edge. Cutting corners in the way it conducted the clinical trials is dangerous,... 

VACCINE RACE

DEADLY PANDEMIC

By: Darlene Creamer     14th August 2020 South Africa’s murder rate remains at pandemic-like levels. During the 2019/20 period covered by the latest crime statistics, murders in South Africa rose by 1.4% to 21 325, which translates to 36 murders for every 100 00 people living in the country. The most common causes of murder are... 

DEADLY PANDEMIC

COVID IN COMMAND 

By: Darlene Creamer     7th August 2020 To navigate the Covid-19 pandemic and keep economic activity going ahead of the discovery of a safe vaccine that can be administered on a massive scale, adherence to the ‘Three Cs’ is critical. Besides wearing a mask and practicing hand hygiene, this means avoiding ‘Crowded Places’, ‘Confined... 

COVID IN COMMAND

MANY FRACTURES

By: Darlene Creamer     31st July 2020 As United Nations secretary-general António Guterres put it when delivering the 18th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture on July 18: “Covid-19 has been likened to an X-ray, revealing fractures in the fragile skeleton of the societies we have built.” Recovering from this pandemic and setting society on... 

MANY FRACTURES

DIVIDED OPINION

By: Darlene Creamer     24th July 2020 The decision to reimpose a ban on the sale of alcohol during South Africa’s Level 3 lockdown has divided opinion. Supporters view the ban as rational, arguing that alcohol-abuse-induced trauma cases should decline materially, freeing up much needed hospital capacity to deal with the Covid-19... 

DIVIDED OPINION
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