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HAPPY NEWS, AT LAST

By: Darlene Creamer     16th May 2008 For many South Africans, it has been a year of woe. Much like the fabled Chicken Little, who felt that the sky was falling when struck on the head by an acorn, citizens have had to endure a hailstorm of fallingacorns, from political uncertainty, to confidence-shattering power rationing. That is... 

HAPPY NEWS, AT LAST

CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY

By: Darlene Creamer     9th May 2008 We all enjoy them when we’re on them, but there’s no denying that the recent public-holiday binge was somewhat ridiculous. It enabled citizens to take an uninterrupted nine-day sabbatical by applying for just two days of midweek leave. Even if all was going to economic plan, this... 

CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY

FOOD VS FUEL

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd May 2008 Current anxiety about the effects of biofuels on food prices certainly appears to make wise South Africa’s decision to refrain from allowing maize into the fuel mix. But, perhaps, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s observation that bad policy and changing eating habits in developing... 

FOOD VS FUEL

MANUEL’S ‘F’ WORDS

By: Darlene Creamer     25th April 2008 The triple crises of fuel, food and finance are making the world an “unhappy place”, South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel says. He adds that, given the reality of a global “credit squeeze” and a significant change in risk appetites, “we are not going to see... 

MANUEL’S ‘F’ WORDS

HAIR-RAISING STUFF

By: Darlene Creamer     18th April 2008 The nation was shocked when it was revealed earlier this year that Eskom had reapplied for a 60% tariff increase for the 2008/9 financial period, instead of the already sanctioned 14,2% increase as from April 1, 2008. But what is likely to spark even more surprise, if not anger, is a calculation... 

HAIR-RAISING STUFF
HAIR-RAISING STUFF

POWER SHIFT

By: Darlene Creamer     11th April 2008 The very different signals coming out of the Union Buildings and Luthuli House on the management of the prevailing electricity crisis are arguably understandable in the circumstances, as there are obvious divisions within the ruling African National Congress. But, surely, it is not in the... 

POWER SHIFT
POWER SHIFT

IGNITING INFLATION

By: Darlene Creamer     4th April 2008 With inflation rising to 9,4% year-on-year in February, from 8,8% in January – on the back of food and energy prices, which have seemingly also fuelled ‘second-round’ inflationary effects – the country is now well outside its targeted inflation band of 3% to 6%. Now, just... 

IGNITING INFLATION
IGNITING INFLATION

BLUNT INSTRUMENT

By: Darlene Creamer     28th March 2008 There is little question that load-shedding is the bluntest of blunt instruments when it comes to power conservation. It is indiscriminate and punitive to the point of being primitive, and should really only be reserved for extreme emergencies. It does little to help change behaviour, other than... 

BLUNT INSTRUMENT
BLUNT INSTRUMENT

DISTURBING DISCOURSE

By: Darlene Creamer     21st March 2008 It is nice to be popular, but to be a leader of a diverse and difficult country such as South Africa, surely, one has to eventually say what one means, and mean what one says. True, that’s a tall order for any politician, but for one such as ANC president Jacob Zuma, whose credibility is... 

DISTURBING DISCOURSE
DISTURBING DISCOURSE

HURRICANE WARNING

By: Darlene Creamer     14th March 2008 It appears the South African economy is being hit by something of a perfect storm. High inflation, which seems to be somewhat immune to higher interest rates; a weakening currency; a power crisis that could constrain growth and employment creation; a lack of capacity to spend within government;... 

HURRICANE WARNING
HURRICANE WARNING

KEEPING HOUSE

By: Darlene Creamer     7th March 2008 Don’t get us wrong; we believe ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa is doing precisely the right thing by investigating the probity of the Chancellor House structure, which appears to have been set up as a funding front for the movement. It is simply his motives that are far from clear.... 

KEEPING HOUSE
KEEPING HOUSE

GROWTH GENERATOR

By: Darlene Creamer     29th February 2008 Finance Minister Trevor Manuel did his bit to try to salvage growth in the South African economy, which is straining under the burdens associated with electricity rationing. He indicated that some R60-billion would be set aside to stabilise Eskom financially over the next five years, while... 

GROWTH GENERATOR
GROWTH GENERATOR

TIME TO BE COUNTED

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd February 2008 South Africa’s Parliament has, hitherto, not really displayed an appropriate willingness to fully flex the oversight muscles it has in the face of political or executive-branch pressure. Therefore, there is no doubt that South African citizens are not overly optimistic that it will start to... 

TIME TO BE COUNTED
TIME TO BE COUNTED

CRUSHING BLOW

By: Darlene Creamer     15th February 2008 The decision by the African National Congress at its Polokwane conference to collapse the Scorpions into the police is seen by many as the thin edge of the wedge with regard to a possible erosion of the key principle of separation of powers. We, as South Africans, have suffered through such a... 

CRUSHING BLOW
CRUSHING BLOW

DEFICIT DIMWITS

By: Darlene Creamer     8th February 2008 As if the strain on South Africa’s current account deficit was not enough (with a post-New Year sell-off of domestic equities and bonds), the power crisis has certainly intervened in a way that compounds matters. The decision to cut electricity rations to the gold and platinum mines, as... 

DEFICIT DIMWITS
DEFICIT DIMWITS

CASTING DARKNESS

By: Darlene Creamer     1st February 2008 The load-shedding driven primarily by supply problems at Eskom and exacerbated by growing demand is casting a long shadow over South Africa. The power disruptions have the potential to precipitate South Africa’s biggest postdemocracy economic crisis. The impact on growth could be... 

CASTING DARKNESS
CASTING DARKNESS

POWERLESS

By: Darlene Creamer     25th January 2008 The prospect of ongoing power cuts hangs heavy over the South African economy. Poor forecasting, planning and, especially, policy have put us in this predicament. It is, surely, up to government (which got us into this mess, with flawed policy decisions) and, more especially, the National... 

POWERLESS
POWERLESS

FEELING FRAGILE

By: Darlene Creamer     18th January 2008 The overindulgence of certain US banks over the past few years appears to be leaving the whole world with something of a hangover. We have already heard a somewhat downbeat forecast from the embattled British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who is no doubt talking his own somewhat tatty book. But... 

FEELING FRAGILE
FEELING FRAGILE

FLASHBACK (AND FORWARD)

By: Darlene Creamer     14th December 2007 It feels as if it was over before it began – 2007, that is. But on reflection, quite a bit was packed into the last 12 months: a seeming intensification of the crime and Aids scourges; political intrigue and succession debates; soaring stocks; the makings of an international financial... 

FLASHBACK (AND FORWARD)
FLASHBACK (AND FORWARD)

CONSUMER ALERT

By: Darlene Creamer     7th December 2007 No matter how one slices it, the fact that the price of such a basic food stuff as bread was manipulated is simply horrific. The Competition Commission and now the Competition Tribunal should be congratulated for their work so far in bringing the culprits to book. But what has emerged is that the... 

CONSUMER ALERT
CONSUMER ALERT

THE ‘R’ WORD REAPPEARS

By: Darlene Creamer     30th November 2007 That dreaded word, ‘recession’, has again entered the lexicon of global-economy watchers. Despite reassurances from many, rising prices, a wobbly US job market, low-interest-rate-induced US dollar weakness, and an oil price of close to $100/bl are all contriving to create real... 

THE ‘R’ WORD REAPPEARS
THE ‘R’ WORD REAPPEARS

SAVING THE CONSUMER

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd November 2007 While it is truly sad that it has come down to this, the recent imposition by the Competition Commission of a R99-million fine against Tiger Brands, for its role in the manipulation of bread prices, is heartening. It is equally heartening to hear that others, who failed to cooperate with the... 

SAVING THE CONSUMER
SAVING THE CONSUMER

DISCONNECTED

By: Darlene Creamer     16th November 2007 State power utility Eskom says it is expediting regulations to enable it to expropriate land it requires for transmission-line servitudes, because the acquisition process is taking too long. The utility will spend some R15,5-billion on long-distance transmission lines up to 2012, but has... 

DISCONNECTED
DISCONNECTED

THE MOBILE CONTINENT

By: Darlene Creamer     9th November 2007 It has been reported that sub-Saharan Africa's cellular industry plans to invest $50-billion over five years to expand networks and upgrade services. Tom Phillips, the chief government and regulatory affairs officer for the industry body, the GSM Association, told Reuters that the investment... 

THE MOBILE CONTINENT
THE MOBILE CONTINENT

UNITED EUPHORIA

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd November 2007 While there might well be a probe into the so-called hoax tornado warning that struck panic in the heart of Joburgers last month, there is absolutely no need to investigate why just about every South African has a windswept-like expression of happiness on his or her face. The 'Habana Hurricane'... 

UNITED EUPHORIA
UNITED EUPHORIA

KICKING FOR TOUCH

By: Darlene Creamer     26th October 2007 While the so-called Doha trade round was meant to have been all about development, most poor countries are none too happy with the latest texts. These effectively demand "aggressive" industrial tariff cuts by developing countries in return for "modest" farm-trade reform. In rugby parlance, the... 

KICKING FOR TOUCH
KICKING FOR TOUCH

SUMMER SQUEEZE

By: Darlene Creamer     19th October 2007 With offices in Bedfordview, this publication is all too aware of the impact power cuts have on business activity. We, therefore, have great sympathy for all those businesses and ordinary citizens that have been affected by the more recent weather-related outages. The bad news is that Eskom has... 

SUMMER SQUEEZE
SUMMER SQUEEZE

IT'S GETTING WORSE

By: Darlene Creamer     12th October 2007 The news out of South Africa's struggling manufacturing sector appears to get worse by the day. Reports suggest that factory activity fell to an 18-month low in September, with the Investec purchasing managers� index slumping to 51,4 from 54,3 the month before. We can only trust there is an... 

IT'S GETTING WORSE
IT’S GETTING WORSE

HIGH RISK

By: Darlene Creamer     5th October 2007 The announcement by President Thabo Mbeki that he had suspended National Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Vusi Pikoli shocked the nation to its core. Are we seeing the beginnings of a deal between the so-called Mbeki and Zuma camps? Has the institution (as has been claimed unrelentingly... 

HIGH RISK
HIGH RISK

NOW FOR THE BAD NEWS

By: Darlene Creamer     28th September 2007 For those South Africans fortunate enough to be on the inside of the formal economy, things have, arguably, never been better as they reap the benefits of higher growth and fixed investment. But to sustain the prosperity cycle is going to depend, increasingly, on whether South Africa’s... 

NOW FOR THE BAD NEWS
NOW FOR THE BAD NEWS

CROSSED LINES

By: Darlene Creamer     21st September 2007 Confusion reigns over the future position of the private sector in the deployment and operation of long-distance, submarine fibre-optic cables landing in South Africa. While it is understandable that the South African government is suspicious of possible profiteering off what are essentially... 

CROSSED LINES
CROSSED LINES

LEVERING MANUFACTURING

By: Darlene Creamer     14th September 2007 There is deep concern about fundamental imbalances in South Africa’s current growth trajectory, which is heavily dependent on the importation of value-added products, funded, in part, by the export of lower-value commodities. The current account deficit is also widening, while manufacturing... 

LEVERING MANUFACTURING
LEVERING MANUFACTURING

POLICY BLOCKAGE

By: Darlene Creamer     7th September 2007 It is none too clear what is happening in the whole area of fuel-pipeline regulation. While the regulator has shown an openness to allow alternative and private-sector-led infrastructure proposals, there has been some unbecoming opposition out of the Department of Minerals and Energy about... 

POLICY BLOCKAGE
POLICY BLOCKAGE

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

By: Darlene Creamer     31st August 2007 The National Energy Regulator of South Africa will hold public hearings into Eskom’s application for an 18% electricity tariff adjustment on November 22. But it looks like South African consumers are caught in something of a power vice. This is because Eskom’s request is basically... 

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION

By: Darlene Creamer     24th August 2007 South Africa aims to materially increase the profile of nuclear energy in its power-generation mix and is targeting to generate upwards of 15% of its electricity from this source by 2030. Nuclear power currently accounts for about 6% of the electricity generated in the country, with only one... 

NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION
NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION

ARM WRESTLING

By: Darlene Creamer     17th August 2007 Despite what Finance Minister Trevor Manuel might say, there is an overwhelming perception that the ‘suits’ at the National Treasury (backed by the custodians of the so-called ‘Washington Consensus’ at the International Monetary Fund) are none too happy with the... 

ARM WRESTLING
ARM WRESTLING

NEXT STEP CRUCIAL

By: Darlene Creamer     10th August 2007 The embattled Department of Trade and Industry released its long-awaited National Industrial Policy Framework last week with an associated action plan. It identifies four lead sectors for priority focus, including capital and transport goods and metals fabrication; automotive; chemicals, plastics... 

NEXT STEP CRUCIAL
NEXT STEP CRUCIAL

DEPARTMENT OF RESTRUCTURING

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd August 2007 Given the scope and scale of the issues dealt with by South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) – from the issuance of liquor and lottery licences to its more rarefied policy deliberations on international trade – it is little wonder that there is often unhappiness... 

DEPARTMENT OF RESTRUCTURING
DEPARTMENT OF RESTRUCTURING
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