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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

METAL WARRIORS

By: Darlene Creamer     27th July 2007 Highveld Steel minorities were less than impressed by the first offer made to them by Russian steel group Evraz in June, and they appear somewhat underwhelmed by the latest offer, too. Last week, Evraz raised its bid to R93 a share after the wholesale rejection (even by the Highveld board) of its... 

METAL WARRIORS
METAL WARRIORS

GOING GLOBAL?

By: Darlene Creamer     20th July 2007 While it is a long shot, there is some pressure for the top job at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is traditionally occupied by a European, to go to a person from outside the continent when the incumbent, Rodrigo Rato, steps down in October. There is no rule that the head of the IMF... 

GOING GLOBAL?
GOING GLOBAL?

SORE THUMB

By: Darlene Creamer     13th July 2007 Days after Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi backed calls for a so-called ‘United States of Africa’, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report confirmed Zimbabwe as the continent’s ‘sore thumb’. With the balance of Africa having... 

SORE THUMB
SORE THUMB

GOLDEN GOAL OR OWN GOAL

By: Darlene Creamer     6th July 2007 Much has been said and written about the controversial R1,5-billion, five-year football rights deal involving SuperSport and the Premier Soccer League (PSL). The PSL sold exclusive television rights to the pay-TV channel earlier last month. But the deal became doubly controversial when it emerged... 

GOLDEN GOAL OR OWN GOAL
GOLDEN GOAL OR OWN GOAL

STRIKE SEASON

By: Darlene Creamer     29th June 2007 Those unfortunate South Africans who have already felt the brunt of unplanned power cuts this year and last would have read with a sense of foreboding news of a possible strike by three Eskom unions, representing some 20 000 workers. The unions are demanding a 12% wage increase, while the utility... 

STRIKE SEASON
STRIKE SEASON

CHALLENGING TIMES

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd June 2007 There is little doubt that Telkom, which has monopolised parts of the South African telecoms landscape for decades, is entering the most challenging phase in its history. It is facing not only the prospect of head-on competition from Neotel, but, more worryingly, from the giant cellular... 

CHALLENGING TIMES
Photo by Darlene
CHALLENGING TIMES

TOUGH LOVE

By: Darlene Creamer     15th June 2007 Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin has promised a 'tough love' approach to failing national carrier South African Airways (SAA). Part of the medicine, so far, has been the grounding of its B747-400 fleet and now attention is turning to employee costs. We already know that some 150... 

TOUGH LOVE
Photo by Darlene
TOUGH LOVE

MONORAIL BATTLE

By: Darlene Creamer     8th June 2007 Is it possible that the long-running and ugly succession battle within the ruling ANC has now entered to the project economy? Who was behind the monorail plan? Why did the Gauteng leaders, who are aware, surely, of public-project protocol take the decision to move ahead with the high-profile... 

MONORAIL BATTLE
Photo by Darlene
MONORAIL BATTLE

PEAKS AND MORE PEAKS

By: Darlene Creamer     1st June 2007 While some question whether there really is a skills shortage in South Africa, with Commission for Employment Equity chairperson Jimmy Manyi having suggested it to be an “urban legend”, the more orthodox view is that the shortage is very real. There is also concern about the fact... 

PEAKS AND MORE PEAKS
Photo by Darlene
PEAKS AND MORE PEAKS

NO BALL

By: Darlene Creamer     25th May 2007 In the same week that Australian Prime Minister John Howard ordered the Australian cricket team to withdraw from a scheduled tour of Zimbabwe, Commission for Employment Equity chairperson Jimmy Manyi effectively 'no-balled'corporate South Africa. Manyi suggested that compliance with the... 

NO BALL
Photo by Darlene
NO BALL

WINDS OF CHANGE

By: Darlene Creamer     18th May 2007 The winds of political change are blowing throughout the world. There are changes of leadership either under way or on the way in France, the UK, Russia and the US. In South Africa, too, there is a serious succession battle in play, which could yield a new leader of the ANC later this year... 

WINDS OF CHANGE
Photo by Darlene
WINDS OF CHANGE

SUCCESSION SALUTE

By: Darlene Creamer     11th May 2007 The clenched fist raised was always synonymous with the anti-apartheid struggle and the African National Congress (ANC), and its allies, in particular. Now, a new salute is emerging for a new struggle - the succession struggle, that is. At a recent Eastern Cape rally, some in the crowd held three... 

SUCCESSION SALUTE
Photo by Darlene
SUCCESSION SALUTE

PRICE PRESSURES

By: Darlene Creamer     4th May 2007 It is an open secret that South Africa's electricity prices are set to rise. State-owned utility Eskom has been requesting above-inflation- target increases for years, and despite the fact that it is in the middle of a three-year price determination, which should run until 2009, it now looks... 

PRICE PRESSURES
Photo by Darlene
PRICE PRESSURES

POWER PLAY

By: Darlene Creamer     27th April 2007 Eskom chairperson Valli Moosa announced last week that the board at the utility had approved a plan to move forward the tenure of Jacob Maroga as CEO to May 1. Incumbent Thulani Gcabashe will end his seven-year, two-contract stint on April 30. Interestingly, though, Gcabashe will remain at Eskom... 

POWER PLAY
Photo by Darlene
POWER PLAY

DOUBLE SPEAK

By: Darlene Creamer     20th April 2007 Just as South African business felt it had a bit more certainty on the whole area of black economic empowerment (BEE), given the release, earlier this year, by Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa, of the BEE codes of good practice, then comes another voice from government. South... 

DOUBLE SPEAK
Photo by Darlene
DOUBLE SPEAK

NO END-GAME IN SIGHT

By: Darlene Creamer     13th April 2007 The unanimous support given by the leaders of the Southern African Development Community to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at a recent meeting had all the hallmarks of another great political tragedy, that of Nero, who was said to have played the fiddle while Rome was burning, during the... 

NO END-GAME IN SIGHT
Photo by Darlene
NO END-GAME IN SIGHT

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