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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

COLLAPSING CONFIDENCE

By: Darlene Creamer     17th July 2015 The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (Sacci’s) business confidence index fell to a 16-and-a-half-year low in June. The Sacci publication followed hot on the heels of the release of the consumer-confidence print for the second quarter, which collapsed to a 14-and-a-half-year low.... 

COLLAPSING CONFIDENCE

SOME REPRIEVE

By: Darlene Creamer     10th July 2015 South Africans breathed a sigh of relief on June 29 when the National Energy Regulator of South Africa Nersa rejected Eskom’s application for a further 2015/16 tariff hike in addition to the 12.69% already granted for the year. However, the door has been left open for another approach, so we... 

SOME REPRIEVE

UNHAPPY TREND

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd July 2015 Whether justified or not, the trend of suspending State-owned company (SoC) executives is nevertheless unsettling. The latest SoC afflicted is embattled oil company PetroSA, where it was finally confirmed that CEO Nosizwe Nokwe-Macamo and CFO Lindiwe Bakoro had been placed on “precautionary... 

UNHAPPY TREND

REPUTATIONAL DAMAGE

By: Darlene Creamer     26th June 2015 South Africa’s reputation as a beacon of hope for the world has been on the wane for some time. But the country arguably reached a new low in the eyes of the international community this month in it’s handling of President Omar al-Bashir visit. Why was he allowed to come in the first place? Why... 

REPUTATIONAL DAMAGE

FIFA-FICATION

By: Darlene Creamer     19th June 2015 The news flow surrounding FIFA and South Africa’s 2010 World Cup bid has been depressing to say the least. It has gone some way to undermine the warm feelings most South Africans still have towards the event, which some still contend was one of the best-run in the history of footfall. 

FIFA-FICATION

CONFIDENCE SAPPING 

By: Darlene Creamer     12th June 2015 The executive’s handling of the entire Nkandla debacle has been poor from the start. But it arguably reached a now low last month when Police Minister Nathi Nhleko presented an entirely unbelievable spin on the non-security components of the upgrade. The entire confidence-sapping scandal has not... 

CONFIDENCE SAPPING

ENERGY SAPPING

By: Darlene Creamer     5th June 2015 While South Africa was enduring more than 20 days of consecutive load-shedding in May, Africa’s largest economy was experiencing an economically debilitating fuel crisis. The Nigerian crisis arose over a disagreement between government and fuel wholesalers on payment for the differential between... 

ENERGY SAPPING

CLEAR AS MUD

By: Darlene Creamer     29th May 2015 Recent statements made by government and African National Congress leaders regarding possible private investment into struggling State-owned power utility Eskom were confusing to say the least – possibly deliberately so. But the bottom line is that government has a limited ability to inject... 

CLEAR AS MUD

HANDSHAKE REPUBLIC

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd May 2015 Recent high-profile settlements and resignations at the South African Revenue Service, South African Airways and the Hawks have led to some commentators questioning whether South Africa might not becoming a ‘golden handshake republic’. Such settlements may bring immediate stability, but their... 

HANDSHAKE REPUBLIC

NOT IN A GOOD SPACE

By: Darlene Creamer     15th May 2015 South Africa experienced its worst spate of load-shedding since 2008 in April and the early statistical releases in May suggest that the country’s electricity constraint is really starting to hurt. It was also leading contributor to yet another unhappy downgrade, to 2%, of the country’s 2015... 

NOT IN A GOOD SPACE

REAL PAIN

By: Darlene Creamer     8th May 2015 The recent trading update by aluminium-products manufacturer Hulamin gave worrying insight in the real financial costs of load shedding. First quarter output, the company said, had been impacted by electricity curtailments, with interim earnings set to fall by more than 20% as a consequence.... 

REAL PAIN

PLEASANT SURPRISE

By: Darlene Creamer     1st May 2015 Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson surprised on the upside last month in unveiling South Africa’s plans for the introduction of independent power producers. Besides an accelerated and expanded renewable-energy programme, she also gave a far clearer outline for the introduction of private coal... 

PLEASANT SURPRISE

UGLY & UNACCEPTABLE 

By: Darlene Creamer     24th April 2015 The violent attacks on foreign nationals in Durban provided an ugly reminder of the xenophobia that still lurks deep within the South African psyche. Overcoming this image-damaging scourge will require responsible and progressive-minded leadership of the highest order. Sadly, there is currently... 

UGLY & UNACCEPTABLE

ROADS CRUNCH

By: Darlene Creamer     17th April 2015 Uncertainty over South Africa’s approach to funding the newly improved Gauteng highway network can be seen every time Sanral attempts to raise debt on the capital markets. At some point (hopefully sooner rather than later), resolution has to be found to the current impasse. The longer it is left,... 

ROADS CRUNCH

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

By: Darlene Creamer     10th April 2015 South African Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago had this to say about the electricity situation, following the March meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee statement: “The outlook for the domestic economy remains overshadowed by the electricity supply constraint, which appears to have had... 

ECONOMIC FALLOUT

HERE WE GO AGAIN

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd April 2015 Eskom has confirmed that it is preparing an application for a reopener of the third multiyear price determination (MYPD3), under which five yearly tariff increases of 8% have been officially approved. The cash-strapped utility, which originally sought yearly increases of 16%, is looking to hikes... 

HERE WE GO AGAIN

WHAT CRISIS?

By: Darlene Creamer     27th March 2015 Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi explained away the situation at the troubled State-owned utility thus, after announcing the suspension of the newly appointed CEO and three other senior executives: “There is no crisis. I’ll say to you what the President said, that there is no crisis. I’ll tell you... 

WHAT CRISIS?

CAPEX CUTS

By: Darlene Creamer     20th March 2015 Like so many other energy companies, South African energy and chemicals group Sasol has been forced to realign its business to the new oil price reality. It has outlined a R30-billion to R50-billion cash-conservation programme, with capital-expenditure (capex) cuts making up the lion’s share. The... 

CAPEX CUTS

GROWTH WORRY

By: Darlene Creamer     13th March 2015 Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene had little option but to walk the fiscal-consolidation talk when presenting his maiden Budget. However, too little emphasis was given to what could be done (outside of the Budget) to galvanise higher rates of growth, without which the problems of poverty,... 

GROWTH WORRY

POWER PLANS

By: Darlene Creamer     6th March 2015 Both the Western Cape and Gauteng have announced that they plan to raise non-Eskom electricity output. The two important economic centres realise that their growth ambitions will be seriously curtailed without reliable and affordable power. But to deliver it will be easier said that done. 

POWER PLANS

SHOCKING DISPLAY

By: Darlene Creamer     27th February 2015 National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete may have laid the blame squarely on the Department of State Security for the unlawful use of a cell-phone jamming device ahead of the State of the Nation address on February 12. But that does not exonerate her from a range of other transgressions and... 

SHOCKING DISPLAY

CONFIDENCE SAPPING

By: Darlene Creamer     20th February 2015 South Africa’s weak economic performance is already making it hard for investors, domestic or foreign, to put money into expansionary projects. But add into the mix the country’s electricity instability, which appears set to be with us for some time, and the outlook becomes that much more bleak. 

CONFIDENCE SAPPING

OIL WINDFALL 

By: Darlene Creamer     13th February 2015 There is no question that consumers are enjoying a nice little windfall as a result of the dramatic fall in the oil price. But translating this short-term gain into sustainable benefits for households and the economy is easier said that done. 

OIL WINDFALL

DECLINE IN PERFORMANCE

By: Darlene Creamer     6th February 2015 The steep rise in unplanned outages from Eskom existing coal-fired fleet is a key reason for the return to load shedding. Until the State-owned utility recovers the performance of its existing power stations, even much needed new capacity will be insufficient to ensure supply stability. 

DECLINE IN PERFORMANCE

LABOUR CROSSHAIRS

By: Darlene Creamer     30th January 2015 Its too early to forecast what the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa’s new supply-chain-based organising model will mean for it, the future of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the Cosatu affiliates on whose toes Numsa will undoubtedly tread. But the development... 

LABOUR CROSSHAIRS

HIGH NOON 

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd January 2015 President Jacob Zuma, who has avoided Parliament ever since the #paybackthemoney shouting match, is due to deliver his State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly on Thursday February 12. The tension is already building, with some expecting a Western-style showdown. Much is at stake,... 

HIGH NOON

TIME FOR SOLIDARITY

By: Darlene Creamer     16th January 2015 South African flag adapted and flipped in solidarity with the people of France. 

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

By: Darlene Creamer     12th December 2014 Nobody would disagree that 2014 has been a difficult year for South Africans. The economy underperformed, the electricity constraints became more visible than ever, and the industrial relations and political climate (notwithstanding a fairly successful election) was hostile to say the least. The... 

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

STILL FRAGILE

By: Darlene Creamer     5th December 2014 South Africa's gross domestic product grew by an annualised 1.4% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter of 2014, from a revised 0.5% in the second. The recovery came amid still fragile investor confidence, the rebuilding of which will be vital if the South African economy hopes to close in on... 

STILL FRAGILE

TSUNAMI WARNING

By: Darlene Creamer     28th November 2014 As South Africans gear up for their summer holidays, calls for greater vigilance against criminality rise. But unless practical remedies are found to the country’s unemployment, poverty and inequality problems the ground remains fertile not only for crime, but also social instability. 

TSUNAMI WARNING

GLOOMY SHADOW

By: Darlene Creamer     21st November 2014 The South African economy simply failed to live up to expectations in 2014. And unless serious efforts are made to deal with chronic constraints – from electricity shortages and labour strife, to weak investor-confidence levels – the prognosis for 2015 will not be much better. 

GLOOMY SHADOW

NO LONGER BOREDROOMS

By: Darlene Creamer     14th November 2014 South Africans have become used to some quite colourful, even extreme, behaviour from their Parliamentarians. But the corporate boardroom can now no longer be considered a ‘boredroom’. Whether its PPC, HCI or South African Airways there is never a dull moment, it seems. 

NO LONGER BOREDROOMS

STILL A STRUGGLE

By: Darlene Creamer     7th November 2014 Some of the forward-looking indicators have turned positive for South Africa’s embattled manufacturers. However, there is no denying that conditions remain difficult. Domestic and international demand is still patchy and input and labour prices have increased materially. Some must be wondering... 

STILL A STRUGGLE

BINDING CONSTRAINT

By: Darlene Creamer     31st October 2014 There is little likelihood that South Africa’s electricity constraints will ease materially even after the first Medupi unit is introduced. In addition, a tariff hike of nearly 12.7% has been approved for introduction from April 1, 2015, with a possibility of more hikes, despite a recent... 

BINDING CONSTRAINT

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