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SMALL BUSINESS LIFELINE

By: Darlene Creamer     20th May 2016 News that government and business would be launching a fund to support small businesses is indeed welcome, particularly in light of the country’s dismal employment performance in the first quarter. However, it should not distract government from dealing with some of the more fundamental... 

SMALL BUSINESS LIFELINE

LOCALISATION CROSSROADS

By: Darlene Creamer     13th May 2016 For some time now, there have been grumblings about the failure of some rail original equipment manufacturers to live up to their local-content commitments. Now that the issue is receiving much needed public attention, it is vital that steps are taken to either ensure that the localisation... 

LOCALISATION CROSSROADS

STEEL SQUEEZE

By: Darlene Creamer     6th May 2016 There is little question that the steel industry is taking strain globally, owing to too much supply chasing too little demand. In South Africa, however, an anomalous situation has arisen: prices are recovering and there are even shortages of some long-steel products. Unless well managed, the... 

STEEL SQUEEZE

DOMESTIC MATTERS

By: Darlene Creamer     29th April 2016 With the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank confirming that international economic developments are unlikely to be supportive of growth in countries such as South Africa, more and more attention is going to have to be giving to reigniting domestic sources of growth. To open that... 

DOMESTIC MATTERS

TOUGHER TIMES

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd April 2016 Africa grew by only 3% in 2015, which was the continent’s slowest pace of growth since the 2009 global financial crisis and well below the 6.8% levels experienced between 2003 and 2008. The World Bank has also lowered its 2016 growth forecast for Africa to 3.3%, from 4.2% previously, largely... 

TOUGHER TIMES

PAPERING THE CRACKS

By: Darlene Creamer     15th April 2016 African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s statement that the governing party would not “tear itself apart” by recalling a President who failed in his obligation to “uphold, defend and respect the Constitution” offered a tiny glimpse into the reasons behind its weak response to... 

PAPERING THE CRACKS

DUAL DILEMMA

By: Darlene Creamer     8th April 2016 There is little question that the South African Reserve bank is correct to use the tools at its disposal to ensure that inflation does not get out of control. However, there is increasing scepticism over whether the bank’s recent response to the spike in inflation is sensitive enough to the... 

DUAL DILEMMA

DEFINING MOMENT

By: Darlene Creamer     1st April 2016 The Hollywood blockbuster Armageddon comes to mind as the rating agencies deliberate on whether or not to downgrade South Africa to junk. It’s time for Bruce Willis-style heroics. To prevail, the agencies will need to be convinced that we are not only ready to restore our fiscal balances, but... 

DEFINING MOMENT

JUNK-AVOIDANCE CHECKLIST

By: Darlene Creamer     25th March 2016 There is no doubting Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s determination to navigate South Africa through the stormy waters of the upcoming credit-rating reviews. However, he has also made it clear that there is no single junk-avoidance magic bullet, with the Budget comprising but one component. The... 

JUNK-AVOIDANCE CHECKLIST

SERIOUS THREAT

By: Darlene Creamer     18th March 2016 South Africa’s prevailing drought is exacting a toll on the economy, on jobs and on food prices. Employment in agriculture decreased by 37 000 in the fourth quarter of last year, while wilting agricultural production is contributing to South Africa’s weak growth forecast. But food price increases... 

SERIOUS THREAT

EXTREMELY FRAGILE

By: Darlene Creamer     11th March 2016 The difficulty of South Africa’s balancing act in avoiding a downgrade of its investment-grade credit rating cannot be underestimated. The fragility of the situation became strongly evident recently when doubts emerged over whether Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan still enjoyed political support... 

EXTREMELY FRAGILE

TIRED STRATEGY

By: Darlene Creamer     4th March 2016 It came as a huge relief when there were no opposition-party disruptions in Parliament during Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s Budget Speech. While the strategy was fairly effective in 2015, many South Africans have grown weary of the method. Hopefully opposition lawmakers will find new and more... 

TIRED STRATEGY

IT'S ECONOMY CLASS, STUPID!

By: Darlene Creamer     26th February 2016 It was refreshing to see Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan flying economy from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Hopefully the rest of Cabinet will follow suit. It was less refreshing to learn of yet another delay to the publication of South African Airways’ annual report, which should have been released... 

IT'S ECONOMY CLASS, STUPID!

SLASH & TAX

By: Darlene Creamer     19th February 2016 It’s a case of ‘Back to the Future 2’ with Pravin Gordhan returning to Parliament as Finance Minister after a two-year break – a sequel that rises from the ashes of the near-calamitous shuffling of the portfolio by President Jacob Zuma between December 9 and 13. As with his last appearance,... 

SLASH & TAX

BUDGET SURGERY

By: Darlene Creamer     12th February 2016 There is little question that Budget 2016 will be watched even more closely than usual following the upheavals of December. There is also very little room of manoeuvre, with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan address to be critical in determining whether or not South Africa is downgraded to junk. He... 

BUDGET SURGERY

STORM WARNING

By: Darlene Creamer     5th February 2016 While many parts of South Africa are in dire need of rain, the dark clouds on the horizon are, sadly, mostly of the economic variety. The country’s growth prospects are weak, investor confidence is low and the price outlook for many of the commodities we mine and export is miserable. 

STORM WARNING

CURRENCY CRUNCH

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd January 2016 The rand ended the year under intense pressure after currency traders reacted negatively to President Jacob Zuma’s shock decision to remove Nhlanhla Nene as Finance Minister and replace him with the little known David ‘Des’ van Rooyen. It recovered, but remained under pressure even after the... 

CURRENCY CRUNCH

IN A BUBBLE

By: Darlene Creamer     15th January 2016 There are more and more signs that President Jacob Zuma is in a classical ‘presidential bubble’. He has surrounded himself with people who agree with him and he appears increasingly insensitive to the harsh realities being faced by South African citizens and by business. Could it burst before 2019? 

IN A BUBBLE

TALL ORDER

By: Darlene Creamer     11th December 2015 The board at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa no doubt faces an uphill battle in attempting the extricate the organisaiton form a R5-billion contract with Swifambo Rail Leasing, which procured locomotives from Vossloh, of Spain, that seemingly don’t even meet the basic technical... 

TALL ORDER

GOVERNANCE DESCENT

By: Darlene Creamer     4th December 2015 Developments at South African Airways are more than troubling. The national carrier’s already difficult turnaround journey is being made intolerably turbulent by its politically connected chairperson, Dudu Myeni. Even more troubling is the damage her disregard for good governance is having on the... 

GOVERNANCE DESCENT

MOOD LIFTER

By: Darlene Creamer     27th November 2015 Amid all the bad news and in the same week that lawmakers debated the controversial Protection of Investment Bill, BMW gave South Africans a much needed lift when it announced that it would invest R6-billion into the Rosslyn plant, in Gauteng, to produce the next-generation X3 sports-activity... 

MOOD LIFTER

FEATHERS FLY

By: Darlene Creamer     20th November 2015 The long-standing disagreement between South Africa and the US over the ability of the American poultry industry to export chicken pieces to South Africa came to into sharp relief earlier this month when President Barack Obama announced that Africa Growth and Opportunity Act benefits would be... 

FEATHERS FLY

LAST STRAW

By: Darlene Creamer     13th November 2015 The South African economy is under tremendous strain. Growth has been weak ever since the 2008/9 global financial crisis and the country’s immediate economic prospects are weighed down by the deceleration in China, the associated fall in commodity prices, domestic electricity shortages and poor... 

LAST STRAW

GAPS EVERYWHERE

By: Darlene Creamer     6th November 2015 South Africa is facing funding shortfalls on an increasing number of fronts as tax revenues come under pressure and social demands rise. The most recent gap emerged when it was decided to hold back on university fee increases for 2016. But government is also having to scramble to cover... 

GAPS EVERYWHERE

HARD TIMES

By: Darlene Creamer     30th October 2015 Despite the obvious disjuncture between the scenes inside the Parliamentary chamber last week and those occurring on the streets outside, there was concurrence, at both events, on one theme: students want to pay less, as they and their parents or benefactors feel the pinch of an underperforming... 

HARD TIMES

ROCKY RIDE

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd October 2015 The South Africa economy undoubtedly faces its own specific domestic weaknesses; from the electricity shortfall and regional drought conditions to its educational backlogs and skills deficit. But the global environment is also far less favourable than was the case ahead of 2008 global financial... 

ROCKY RIDE

UNACCEPTABLE

By: Darlene Creamer     16th October 2015 The recent bombing by the US military of a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, can surely not be justified. MSF is correct to demand an independent investigation of what if views as a war crime. After more than 30 minutes of bombing, 12 MSF staff members and 10... 

UNACCEPTABLE

SHOCKING DECEPTION

By: Darlene Creamer     9th October 2015 The admission by German carmaker Volkswagen that it cheated emissions tests in the US by installing devices in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, has shocked the world. It is also likely to have a negative effect on diesel vehicles, which have hitherto been held up as... 

SHOCKING DECEPTION

IN THE CROSSFIRE

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd October 2015 South Africa’s school children are likely to be the real losers unless government and the teachers unions can breach the impasse on the annual national assessments. Both sides have good arguments. But in the end, the assessments are required to offer better visibility of the education system’s... 

IN THE CROSSFIRE

FLICKERS OF HOPE, BUT . . .

By: Darlene Creamer     25th September 2015 After around 100 days of load-shedding since November, South Africa has experienced relative calm in recent weeks. However, the tight system remains vulnerable to supply disruptions, as was the case recently when Eskom introduced rotational cuts after supply from Mozambique’s Cahora Bassa... 

FLICKERS OF HOPE, BUT . . .

RAND RUCTIONS

By: Darlene Creamer     18th September 2015 There is no telling what the South African currency will be trading at by the time you see this cartoon. What is not in doubt, though, is that many South Africans are finding the rand’s decline against the dollar, the euro and the pound most disconcerting. Hopefully, exporters will tap into their... 

RAND RUCTIONS

STEEL STRESS

By: Darlene Creamer     11th September 2015 The South African steel industry is under major stress, with mills having already been shut and further plant closures on the cards. While government, industry and labour are at last singing from the same ‘survival’ hymn sheet, conditions are such that job losses are inevitable. The extent of the... 

STEEL STRESS

NENE ON NUCLEAR 

By: Darlene Creamer     4th September 2015 In a recent interview with Business Day, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene stressed that it was premature to pronounce on the affordability, or otherwise, of South Africa’s proposed new nuclear build programme. However, he was adamant, that if the programme was unaffordable, it could not be done. 

NENE ON NUCLEAR

PLANS VS. IMPLEMENTATION

By: Darlene Creamer     28th August 2015 The South African government is punting a nine-point plan to help lift growth and investment, which has slumped amid power and labour instability and falling commodity prices. What South Africans really want to see, though, is greater diligence with regards implementation. 

PLANS VS. IMPLEMENTATION

TAKING PAIN 

By: Darlene Creamer     21st August 2015 When Brian Molefe was still at Transnet, he insisted on converting the freight-rail utility’s coal-mining clients into take-or-pay customers. Now at Eskom, Molefe is finding out what it is like to be on the other end of a tricky take-or-pay contract, with the power utility paying over... 

TAKING PAIN

JOBS AT RISK

By: Darlene Creamer     14th August 2015 More than 20 000 workers at big South African enterprises have reportedly been placed on notice in recent weeks that they could face retrenchment. Such news would be devastating in any country. But the trauma is amplified in South Africa, where unemployment is rife and where having a job remains... 

JOBS AT RISK

EXPERT OPINION

By: Darlene Creamer     31st July 2015 The panel of experts appointed by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom had this to say about South Africa’s new visa rules: “The requirement of biometric visas and unabridged birth certificates is likely to have a real impact on the number of tourists that visit our country. While the intention behind... 

EXPERT OPINION

NUCLEAR OPTION

By: Darlene Creamer     24th July 2015 The Department of Energy (DoE) has indicated hat the procurement process for the acquisition of between six and eight nuclear reactors will kick off this month. The main concern, hitherto batted away by government, relates to the affordability of the programme. The DoE insists it can be financed... 

NUCLEAR OPTION

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