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WEIGHING ON CONFIDENCE

     21st July 2017 While entrepreneurs see opportunity where others see problems, investors nevertheless are notoriously shy of uncertainty. Sadly, South Africa’s toxic political environment has served to increase uncertainty levels, which, in turn, is holding back investor confidence. The North-West University... 

WEIGHING ON CONFIDENCE

WRONG HEADED

By: Darlene Creamer     14th July 2017 For South Africa to truly – and radically – address the triple scourge of poverty, inequality and unemployment, quality education is an essential ingredient. Therefore, it is more than a little disturbing to learn that the authorities may scrap mathematics as a compulsory requirement for... 

WRONG HEADED

EXPLOSIVE INFORMATION

By: Darlene Creamer     7th July 2017 The court case surrounding the award, by Eskom, of a R4-billion tender to Dongfang, of China, to repair the Duvha Unit 3 boiler, catastrophically damaged in 2011, has some deeply disturbing elements. While Dongfang’s bid was based on a fixed price, it was nevertheless more expensive than ones... 

EXPLOSIVE INFORMATION

PUNCH DRUNK

By: Darlene Creamer     30th June 2017 South Africa’s toxic politics has left business, as well as potential investors, punch drunk. Besides the irrational ‘night of the long knives’ Cabinet reshuffle, business confidence has been further knocked by the unilateral release of a Mining Charter that cannot be implemented and is probably... 

PUNCH DRUNK

ELECTRIC STORM

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd June 2017 News that electricity utility Eskom will be seeking a shocking 19.9% tariff hike from April 1, 2018, is not at all welcome, despite the fact that utility absorbed a 2.2% increase this year. To make things worse, the application has been made amid worrying claims of corruption at the State-owned... 

ELECTRIC STORM

GRAVY TRAIN

By: Darlene Creamer     16th June 2017 One of the most startling stories to emerge out of the #GuptaLeaks trove is about how a Gupta-family surrogate inserted himself between Transnet and China South Rail (CSR) to earn startling commissions. The story by amaBhungane and Scorpio suggests that a company owned by Salim Essa is pocketing... 

GRAVY TRAIN

TROUBLING TIMES

By: Darlene Creamer     9th June 2017 For South Africans living through the current African National Congress civil war, with its associated fog, it’s hard to believe things could be as bad elsewhere. The sad reality is that the world, more generally, is not in great shape. Terror threats abound, traditional sources of employment are... 

TROUBLING TIMES

SALE SCANDAL 

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd June 2017 The illegal sale of the country’s oil stocks by the Strategic Fuel Fund may well go down in history as one of the most brazen thefts of public resources yet committed in democratic South Africa. The fact that both internal governance rules at the Central Energy Fund and the Public Finance... 

SALE SCANDAL

EXCESS LOAD

By: Darlene Creamer     26th May 2017 South Africans have become somewhat numb to outrageous developments at State-owned companies. But the decision of the Eskom board to reinstate Brian Molefe as CEO was sufficient to shock just about all of society – government, business, labour, civil society and even the governing African... 

EXCESS LOAD

PROTECTION OFFSET

     19th May 2017 Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies has signed off on a hot-rolled coil safeguard duty, which will offer further protection to South Africa’s primary steel producer ArcelorMittal South Africa. However, he has also promised a new incentive for the downstream industry, which is equally under... 

PROTECTION OFFSET

POISONOUS PROCUREMENT

By: Darlene Creamer     12th May 2017 In their April 26 judgment, justices Lee Bozalek and Elizabeth Baartman said it would be “inappropriate for the court to prescribe to the Minister the form of any procurement process to be adopted”. However, their ruling makes it plain that processes followed until now have been neither rational... 

POISONOUS PROCUREMENT

GREATER VIGILANCE

By: Darlene Creamer     5th May 2017 The advent of social media has brought many benefits, including the ability of citizens to have a greater say over social and political developments. But there is a dark side, including the emergence of fake news, often generated by so-called ‘paid Twitter’. There is no turning back the... 

GREATER VIGILANCE

NO JOKE

By: Darlene Creamer     28th April 2017 Those who dismissed – even joked – about South Africa’s recent downgrades were either displaying unbelievable arrogance, or dangerous ignorance. While the brunt of ‘junk’ has been softened by the fact that the country’s local currency debt remains investment grade, the impact will, nevertheless,... 

NO JOKE

IN FREE FALL

By: Darlene Creamer     21st April 2017 The image and reputation of Africa’s oldest liberation movement, the African National Congress, has been sliding for some time. However, under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma the decline is becoming precipitous. 

IN FREE FALL

SHREDDING DEMOCRACY

By: Darlene Creamer     14th April 2017 President Jacob Zuma’s recent actions have, once again, demonstrated just how far he has veered from the values and principles that defined the struggle for liberation in South Africa and helped shape the current democratic dispensation. As Barbara Hogan, a former Cabinet Minister and Ahmed... 

SHREDDING DEMOCRACY

SINKING FEELING

By: Darlene Creamer     7th April 2017 “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others,” was one of the late President Nelson Mandela’s many pearls of wisdom. Perhaps it could serve as something of an inspirational lifeline for South Africans thrashing in... 

SINKING FEELING

REDISCOVERING DIALOGUE

By: Darlene Creamer     31st March 2017 Without doubt, social media has empowered citizens and activists to influence national and international debates like never before. However, these technologies have a dark side. Besides the unsettling phenomenon of fake news, an atmosphere unrestrained hostility is also prevalent. For South... 

REDISCOVERING DIALOGUE

POLICY & SELF CORRECTION

By: Darlene Creamer     24th March 2017 The African National Congress released nine discussion documents earlier this month in the run up to its June policy conference. It is far from clear whether the documents will help facilitate the ‘self correction’ that has been promised by the fractured governing party. In all likelihood that... 

POLICY & SELF CORRECTION

CRACKED CREDIBILITY

By: Darlene Creamer     17th March 2017 The credibility of President Jacob Zuma’s administration is arguably already cracked beyond repair. However, the recent social-grants fiasco brought into sharp focus not only incompetence of certain close allies of Zuma, but also how little regard some Ministers have for the rule of law and the... 

CRACKED CREDIBILITY

ALTERNATIVE PATH

By: Darlene Creamer     10th March 2017 Trade protectionism is back in fashion, with US President Donald Trump leading the march against free trade, which he blames for destroying American industries and jobs. The backlash is fuelled by growing discontent about the shape of globalisation, which is associated with unacceptably high... 

ALTERNATIVE PATH

FIXING FOR PROFITS

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd March 2017 The mechanics of how currency traders manipulated the buying and selling process to maximise profits and avoid losses are complicated. It is also far from clear whether the collusive actions of these South Africa, American and British traders had any major influence on the level at which the rand... 

FIXING FOR PROFITS

NONVIOLENCE AT RISK

By: Darlene Creamer     24th February 2017 South Africans have arguably become somewhat numb to the violent disruptions that have now become commonplace in Parliament. However, indulging this sort of behaviour carries serious long-term risks, not only for democratic process, but also for the way societal disagreements are resolved more... 

NONVIOLENCE AT RISK

YEARS OF THE CHICKEN

By: Darlene Creamer     17th February 2017 Last year, South Africa “played chicken” with the US, which threatened to withdraw some of the country’s preferential trade access under the African Growth and Opportunity Act unless restraints on American chicken imports were eased. This year, attention has turned to the European Union, whose... 

YEARS OF THE CHICKEN

STORM WARNINGS

By: Darlene Creamer     10th February 2017 The political weather reports have become increasingly extreme over the past year, with storms breaking out almost daily since the Brexit vote. The dangers have grown all the more intense, though, since the shock election of President Donald Trump, whose ‘America First’ mission statement seems... 

STORM WARNINGS

LIFEBOAT IN JEOPARDY

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd February 2017 Debate is raging domestically about the motives behind the resurfacing of the so-called Bankorp/Absa ‘lifeboat’ saga, which dates bank to the dying days of apartheid when the South Africa Reserve Bank governor at the time, Dr Chris Stals, extended unlawful support to Bankorp, which was then... 

LIFEBOAT IN JEOPARDY

SOCIAL MANIA

By: Darlene Creamer     27th January 2017 Social Media has become an increasingly powerful weapon for winning hearts and minds. US President Donald Trump was incredibly effective in using Twitter to shape the election narrative and has given no indication that he intends giving his thumbs a rest during his stay at the White House.... 

SOCIAL MANIA

ANTI-TRADE WINDS

By: Darlene Creamer     20th January 2017 Free trade is under attack and anti-trade winds are blowing across the global economy. First there was the surprise Brexit vote, followed by the stunning victory of populist Donald Trump in last year’s US election. Both events point to growing scepticism about the virtues of free trade and... 

ANTI-TRADE WINDS

NEW YEAR RISING

By: Darlene Creamer     16th December 2016 Globally and domestically, 2016 has been a taxing year. South Africa’s economy has stalled, unemployment is on the rise and social and racial tensions abound. Then there have been the political shocks out of the UK and the US to contend with. While there are few signs that 2017 will be a dramatic... 

NEW YEAR RISING

SHORT FUSE

By: Darlene Creamer     9th December 2016 None of the initiatives aimed at unseating President Jacob Zuma have, to date, been sufficient to light the fuse to end his Presidential term. The recent surprise motion of no confidence brought before the African National Congress’ National Executive Committee arguably came the closest. There... 

SHORT FUSE

UNEQUAL PAY

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd December 2016 In the same week that the R3 500-a-month figure was unveiled as the suggested national minimum wage for South Africa, Bloomberg released a survey showing that South African CEOs were the seventh best remunerated globally. In fact, using a ranking that compares CEO pay to income generated per... 

UNEQUAL PAY

NATURAL ANXIETY

By: Darlene Creamer     25th November 2016 The biggest supermoon since 1948, which was on spectacular display last week, offered something of a happy distraction from far less soothing political developments both at home and abroad. One of the major looming uncertainties relates to the election of Donald Trump as America’s forty-fifth... 

NATURAL ANXIETY

STORM WARNINGS

By: Darlene Creamer     18th November 2016 Political developments around the world continue to shock and surprise. The astonishing election of Donald Trump as the next President of the US, followed only months after the bombshell Brexit vote in the UK. South Africa, similarly, has various political storms of its own under way. Talk about... 

STORM WARNINGS

EGG ON FACE 

By: Darlene Creamer     11th November 2016 The credibility of the National Prosecuting Authority and the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, is at an all-time low following the institution and subsequent withdrawal of dubious fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Likewise, the Hawks unit of the South... 

EGG ON FACE

EXACTING A TOLL

By: Darlene Creamer     4th November 2016 Developments in South Africa’s political, economic and social environments are becoming increasingly difficult for South Africans to bear. The violent disruptions at tertiary institutions, the dubious fraud charges against the Finance Minister and the ongoing weakness of the economy are just some... 

EXACTING A TOLL

SHIFTING FUNDAMENTALS

By: Darlene Creamer     28th October 2016 A new comparative analysis by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research shows that the costs associated with wind and solar photovoltaic plants in South Africa are now materially below all other generation options, including coal. It is a development that will surely have to be taken... 

SHIFTING FUNDAMENTALS

OWN GOALS

By: Darlene Creamer     21st October 2016 The decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to charge Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, as well as former South African Revenue Service officials Ivan Pillay and Oupa Magashule, with fraud did not come as a massive surprise given the politics that currently pollutes not only the NPA,... 

OWN GOALS

HARD CHOICES

By: Darlene Creamer     14th October 2016 Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will release the 2016 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement on October 26. Much attention will no doubt be paid to whether government is holding the fiscal-consolidation line without hurting growth prospects – both key elements for staving off the dreaded year-end... 

HARD CHOICES

ECONOMIC OXYGEN

By: Darlene Creamer     7th October 2016 In the absence of confidence, economies stagnate, jobs are not created and investment stalls. For South Africa, the rebuilding of confidence is not only vital for dealing with its serious unemployment and poverty problems, but also to stave off a downgrade to junk in the short term. Sadly, much... 

ECONOMIC OXYGEN
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