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BALANCING ACT

By: Darlene Creamer     21st February 2014 Every year since 2009 there have been warnings and lamentations ahead of Budget day about just how tough it going to be for Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to present a balanced Budget. But in the context of a limp economic outlook, weak revenue growth, massive social need and a commitment to... 

BALANCING ACT

PRESSURE MOUNTS

By: Darlene Creamer     14th February 2014 A new World Health Organisation research study suggests that South Africa has the highest rate of high blood pressure for people aged 50 and over for any country in the world – 78% of those involved in the study tested positive for hypertension. With persistent crime, rampant road carnage, rising... 

PRESSURE MOUNTS

RAND RUCTIONS

By: Darlene Creamer     7th February 2014 All South Africans certainly feel much poorer in 2014 as a result of the decline in the rand. The cost of imports (including fuel) is set to surge, which is likely result in higher inflation. However if the country’s miners and manufacturers take full advantage of their newfound competitiveness... 

RAND RUCTIONS

FEELING DEFLATED

By: Darlene Creamer     31st January 2014 The South African economy did not perform well last year and the outlook for 2014 is only marginally better. To be sure, the economy is weighed down by both internal and external factors. However, it is also clear that much more emphasis needs to be given to clearing the domestic constraints to... 

FEELING DEFLATED

PROMISES, PROMISES

By: Darlene Creamer     24th January 2014 It’s election manifesto season and, as is the norm, the documents generally contained oversized promises and undersized implementation proposals. Without doubt, South Africa has some genuine policy challenges to deal with, but there is also little question that much progress is possible if more... 

PROMISES, PROMISES

FULL TO OVERFLOWING:

By: Darlene Creamer     17th January 2014 While the upcoming elections will dominate the early months of 2014, unfinished business from 2013 is also clogging the country’s inbox. Be it government’s muddled approach to economic policy, a sluggish response to restoring an electricity balance or the ongoing trust deficit between the social... 

FULL TO OVERFLOWING:

SAME SLATE:

By: Darlene Creamer     13th December 2013 Arguably, very few South Africans will look back on 2013 with great fondness. It has been tough on many fronts. At work, the industrial unrest has been unsettling, particularly as it occurred in the context of an already weak business climate. At home, people worry about new expenses such as... 

SAME SLATE:

SLEDGE HAMMERING:

By: Darlene Creamer     6th December 2013 It’s nothing new, but the Australia rather than the England cricketers seemed prepared to take sledging (verbal intimidation) to a whole new level during the current Ashes series Down Under. It is far too early to tell, though, whether Australia’s bullyboy tactics, which upped the ante and... 

SLEDGE HAMMERING:

WORLD IN DISUNION:

By: Darlene Creamer     29th November 2013 Some years ago, it would have seemed outlandish to predict the kind of battle that is currently being waged within South Africa’s most powerful trade union movements. Factions within the Congress of South African Trade Unions and within one of the federation’s largest member unions, the National... 

WORLD IN DISUNION:

SUPER-STORM WARNING:

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd November 2013 In the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan, climate scientists have reiterated earlier warnings that the average tropical cyclone maximum wind speed is likely to increase, even though the global frequency of tropical cyclones could decrease, or remain unchanged. In its fifth assessment report, the... 

RAISING RENEWABLES:

By: Darlene Creamer     15th November 2013 Following a third bidding round, the number of renewable-energy projects approved for development in South Africa has been increased to 64, raising the combined investment currently under way across the country to R150-billion. The projects will have an ultimate combined installed capacity of 3... 

RAISING RENEWABLES:

URGING INTEGRATION:

By: Darlene Creamer     8th November 2013 There is broad-based consensus that greater economic integration across Africa is no longer a nice to have, but a developmental imperative. This message, which was articulated forcefully at the recent Africa Economic Conference, in Johannesburg, is not new. But there appears to be a growing sense... 

URGING INTEGRATION:

STORM WARNING:

By: Darlene Creamer     1st November 2013 As the 2014 election draws nearer, so too do the potential social storms over South Africa’s triple curse of poverty, inequality and unemployment. These liabilities are there to be exploited by opportunists and populists alike. But in the end, only solid and citizen-focused leadership, sensible... 

STORM WARNING:

MIND THE GAP:

By: Darlene Creamer     25th October 2013 Electricity utility Eskom is still a long way from resolving how it plans to deal with the financial hole that has emerged as a result of the regulator’s decision not to grant the 16%-a-year price increases it had sought for the five-year period to 2018. Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s believes... 

MIND THE GAP:

TAPERING FEARS:

By: Darlene Creamer     18th October 2013 More and more warnings have been issued over the past few weeks over the potential negative effects for South Africa of what is now considered to be an inevitable pullback by developed countries from their unconventional monetary policy measures. South Africa is seen as particularly vulnerable to... 

TAPERING FEARS:

UNEQUIVOCAL WARNING:

By: Darlene Creamer     11th October 2013 Some remain sceptical about the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the credibility of its findings. But despite this pressure, which has mounted owing to the so-called warming hiatus, its Fifth Assessment report, published in late September, is unequivocal. The report states... 

UNEQUIVOCAL WARNING:

STILL SAILING:

By: Darlene Creamer     4th October 2013 In the early stages of what is euphemistically referred to as unconventional monetary policy – also known as quantitative easing, or QE – many developing countries felt the brunt through a rapid strengthening of their currencies. Then came the so-called ‘tapering’ threat, which resulted in a... 

WELCOME DEVELOPMENT:

By: Darlene Creamer     27th September 2013 The agreement reached between the US and Russia calling for Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons to be removed or destroyed by the middle of 2014 should be welcomed. It averted the threat of immediate military action – an intervention that was likely to have had unintended consequences for the... 

EN GARDE:  

By: Darlene Creamer     20th September 2013 As choreographed as the battle between Investec’s Stephen Koseff and the African National Congress’s Cyril Ramaphosa over the National Development Plan may have been, it still served as an important reminder that a country plan is important – more important than the internal Alliance politics... 

EN GARDE:

BANKING ON BRICS:

By: Darlene Creamer     13th September 2013 Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) have reportedly agreed to the framework for a proposed new development bank. However, there are persistent warnings that it could still take some time before the institution is fully operational. South Africa is a major supporter of the... 

BANKING ON BRICS:

WAKE-UP CALL:

By: Darlene Creamer     6th September 2013 The conflict in Syria entered a terrifying new phase in August when numerous sources began suggesting that chemical weapons had been employed on a relatively large scale. Respected medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres was one of the first to sound the alarm, noting that patients were... 

WAKE-UP CALL:

WORRYING SITUATION:

By: Darlene Creamer     30th August 2013 The situation in Egypt has become extremely troubling, with the death toll rising along with the rhetoric. Ways need to be found to shift the balance back in favour of peace, stability and, eventually, democracy. But given the tensions, as well as the levels of violence, any return to democracy... 

WORRYING SITUATION:

SHOWING COURAGE:

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd August 2013 President Jacob Zuma may have received the Makhado Bravery Award from King Khosikhulu Toni Mphephu Ramabulana, of the Royal VhaVenda people, but an inspiring display of courage was also under way miles away in Cape Town. It was confirmed that African National Congress MP and struggle veteran Ben... 

SHOWING COURAGE:

OSTRICH OBSERVATION:

By: Darlene Creamer     16th August 2013 Although entirely predictable, the response of the African observer missions to the fraught Zimbabwe elections inspires little confidence and is actually quite depressing. True, the opposition was not as well organised as it should have been. True, the day itself was peaceful. But the run-up to... 

OSTRICH OBSERVATION:

DISUNION:

By: Darlene Creamer     9th August 2013 The splits in the Congress of South African Trade Unions have oozed into the public domain in the ugliest of ways over the past few weeks and months. Without question, the level of disharmony is the worst it has ever been, and it is far from clear how, and if, the rifts can be healed. 

DISUNION:

WE’RE ALL CLAIMING HIM:

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd August 2013 The celebrations over Chris Froome’s victory in this year’s Tour de France were not confined to the Champs-Élysées, or even to the streets of Britain. The celebrations also spread to Africa, where Froome first began expressing his passion for cycling. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1985, he moved to... 

WE’RE ALL CLAIMING HIM:

WELCOME DEVELOPMENT:

By: Darlene Creamer     26th July 2013 While resignations for transgressions or indiscretions are the norm in many countries, it is not the case in South Africa. Therefore, it was fairly surprising that an internal probe into the behaviour of the South African Revenue Service commissioner, Oupa Magashula, resulted in his resignation.... 

WELCOME DEVELOPMENT:

POWERLESS:

By: Darlene Creamer     19th July 2013 Eskom has set the second half of 2014 as the new “realistic” deadline for synchronising Medupi’s first unit, Unit 6, to the grid. The announcement followed an independent assessment of the schedule and fresh delays to the control and instrumentation contract. The utility also confirmed that the... 

POWERLESS:

BACK TO REALITY:

By: Darlene Creamer     12th July 2013 Despite small pockets of protest, US President Barack Obama was generally well received during his recent African tour. However, he has since flown back to Washington DC, where division and dissent remain the order of the day. Come to think of it, where is that not the case currently? 

BACK TO REALITY:

CLIMATE LENS:

By: Darlene Creamer     5th July 2013 World Bank president Jim Yong Kim has reported that the bank is increasingly looking at all its business through a ‘climate lens’. He reinforced this position in late June when the bank released a report titled ‘Turn Down The Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience’.... 

ROAD MAP OR RUBBISH HEAP:

By: Darlene Creamer     28th June 2013 The African National Congress’s allies, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party, continue to heavily criticise the National Development Plan (NDP). However, earlier this month, President Jacob Zuma reaffirmed the NDP as the country’s development ‘road map’. 

ROAD MAP OR RUBBISH HEAP:

LESS HASTE, MORE SPEED:

By: Darlene Creamer     21st June 2013 Many are concerned that Zimbabwe is simply not in a position to hold elections before the July 31 deadline confirmed recently by the Constitutional Court. Moving ahead, observers warn, will result in a process that has little chance of being credible. Besides legal challenges, much responsibility... 

LESS HASTE, MORE SPEED:

DISASTER WARNING:

By: Darlene Creamer     14th June 2013 As South Africa commemorates Youth Day this week, concern is growing locally and globally about the issue of youth unemployment. In South Africa, youth unemployment is said to stand at well over 50%, and The Economist reported recently that almost 290-million young people between the ages of 15... 

DISASTER WARNING:

OFF TARGET:

By: Darlene Creamer     7th June 2013 South Africa's first quarter growth figures were dismal. The economy expanded by only 0.9% on a quarter-on-quarter basis, from 2.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012 - the slowest pace since the 2009 recession. considering that South Africa can only realistically begin making an impact on its serious... 

OFF TARGET:

MANY PERILS:

By: Darlene Creamer     31st May 2013 South African manufacturers continue to face many difficulties. The first-quarter production figures were not rosy; the outlook is tainted by rising power prices, productivity problems, labour disquiet, import competition and the contraction of the key European export market. Perhaps the weaker... 

MANY PERILS:

REAL THREAT:

By: Darlene Creamer     24th May 2013 South Africa’s triple curse of poverty, unemployment and inequality is being identified more and more frequently by international observers as a serious threat to the country’s future stability. Adding his voice to the warnings was the International Monetary Fund’s first deputy MD, David Lipton.... 

DUE NORTH:

By: Darlene Creamer     17th May 2013 The old pit-to-port economic model of colonial Africa is no longer viable, sustainable or desirable. There is a growing realisation among South African companies that their growth compass is now pointing ‘due north’ – not, as in the past, a north that bypasses the rest of the continent, but one... 

STILL STRUGGLING:

By: Darlene Creamer     10th May 2013 Hopes of a rapid recovery from the 2007/8 global financial crisis have long faded. However, there was previously some optimism that things would have started looking brighter by now. Sadly, it’s not the case, with a number of economies still showing signs of serious distress. While things are... 

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