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POWER ALERT:

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd May 2013 Eskom has given its usual warning that the electricity system balance will be “tight” during winter, when it expects demand to peak at 36 800 MW. The difference this time round is that the utility will undertake “long-duration planned maintenance” during the coldest winter months, which will give... 

POWER ALERT:

VERY FRAGILE:

By: Darlene Creamer     26th April 2013 South African Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus told lawmakers last week that global economic confidence remained “very fragile”. As evidence, she pointed to the seemingly extreme reaction of markets to recent Chinese growth figures. China reported gross domestic product growth of 7.7% for the... 

VERY FRAGILE:

INDUSTRIAL REIN-IN:

By: Darlene Creamer     19th April 2013 South Africa has been on a steady path of deindustrialisation for a number of decades. The manufacturing sector was also disproportionately affected by the recent ‘Great Recession’ and has failed to recover to precrisis levels. However, Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies believes... 

INDUSTRIAL REIN-IN:

UNPLANNED LOSSES:

By: Darlene Creamer     12th April 2013 Eskom has become increasingly frank about the volatility of its plant performance. The utility is also warning that the high levels of unplanned outages, which typically leave about 5 000 MW inoperable at any point, will continue unless space is created for it to conduct much-needed maintenance.... 

UNPLANNED LOSSES:

ON THE RACK:

By: Darlene Creamer     5th April 2013 Eskom CEO Brian Dames has indicated that he is “concerned” about the utility’s ability to honour its current mandate of “keeping the lights on” during the winter of 2013. He says the utility will need to continue with maintenance during the high-demand period, as it can no longer allow critical... 

ON THE RACK:

HORROR MOVIE:

By: Darlene Creamer     29th March 2013 What is going on at the South African Broadcasting Corporation? The infighting, which left the organisation without a board earlier this month, has moved from being a mere soap opera into a full-blown horror movie! Once thing is certain, viewers are not merely shielding their eyes, they are also... 

HORROR MOVIE:

TAXING TIMES:

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd March 2013 South Africa’s economy remains energy and carbon intensive. If fact, cheap electricity was, until recently, the country’s main industrial incentive. The power price is rising fast and the South African government has also made some material carbon reduction commitments, which it is backing up... 

TAXING TIMES:

PRICE SHOCK:

By: Darlene Creamer     15th March 2013 It was power utility Eskom rather than South African electricity consumers that seemingly received a price shock when the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) rejected the State-owned company’s application for five yearly increases of 16%. Instead, Nersa granted Eskom yearly... 

PRICE SHOCK:

BIG SQUEEZE:

By: Darlene Creamer     8th March 2013 Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is being squeezed from all sides. Tax revenue growth is weak, the outlook for economic expansion is poor and major spending commitments remain. Some savings initiatives have been announced. However, in light of these difficult circumstances, South Africans would... 

BIG SQUEEZE:

PLATFORM FOR UNITY?

By: Darlene Creamer     1st March 2013 Many South Africans appreciated the bravery shown by Dr Mamphela Ramphele in indicating that she would, in future, launch a party to contest in the 2014 elections. But far fewer citizens truly believe that the initiative, currently fashioned as a platform, will provide the catalyst needed to... 

PLATFORM FOR UNITY?

IMPOSSIBLE DEMANDS:

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd February 2013 There is little doubt that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will disappoint many next Wednesday when he unveils government’s 2013/14 Budget. There are many demands – some old, others new. But in the context of a weak recovery in revenue collections and the increasingly intense external pressure on... 

IMPOSSIBLE DEMANDS:

SHOCK ABSORBER:

By: Darlene Creamer     15th February 2013 Speaker after speaker at the recently National Energy Regulator of South Africa hearings into Eskom’s latest tariff application called on government to play a more significant role in supporting the State-owned utility and shielding consumers and the economy from further price shocks. But given... 

SHOCK ABSORBER:

BODYLINE SERIES:

By: Darlene Creamer     8th February 2013 While President Jacob Zuma and his senior economic Ministers were bowling dollies to potential investors at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, domestic business was being treated to a far more brutal display. The all-out pace and aggression saw business capitulate faster than a Black... 

BODYLINE SERIES:

FALLEN HERO:

By: Darlene Creamer     1st February 2013 Through his autobiography, ‘It’s Not About the Bike’, then-hero Lance Armstrong inspired millions and, more importantly, lifted the spirits of many individuals battling with cancer. We have since sadly learned just how true the title of his book was, as the disgraced cyclist finally confessed to... 

FALLEN HERO:

GRAPES OF WRATH:

By: Darlene Creamer     25th January 2013 South Africa’s labour market is complicated and contradictory. There is high unemployment, yet, in many sectors, skills shortages persist. It is also true that, in many industries, wages have risen well ahead of productivity gains and that businesses are finding this to be a drain on their... 

GRAPES OF WRATH:

QUANTITY & QUALITY:

By: Darlene Creamer     18th January 2013 There was a good deal of excitement about the fact that the Matric Class of 2012 – the first cohort of the so-called ‘born frees’ – achieved a pass rate of 73.9%. Indeed, it was the best performance since the advent of democracy. However, questions remain about the quality of the certificate.... 

QUANTITY & QUALITY:

LUCKY FOR SOME:

By: Darlene Creamer     14th December 2012 All in all, 2012 was a pretty inauspicious year for South Africa. From the textbook saga in Limpopo to the tragic events of Marikana, there were simply too many problems and too little visible progress and leadership – not to mention a dismal economic performance. Hopefully, with the toxic... 

LUCKY FOR SOME:

FOREIGN FINESSE:

7th December 2012 The Bank of England (BoE) surprised many last week when it named Mark Carney, a Canadian national, as its replacement for governor Mervyn King when he retires in July. Carney will become the first non-British head of the central bank in its 300-year history. Perhaps the BoE has seen what a... 

FOREIGN FINESSE:

FOOD TSUNAMI WARNING:

By: Darlene Creamer     30th November 2012 Reports have emerged that the world could face a possible food crisis in 2013. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, or FAO, warns that not as much food has been produced in 2012 as has been consumed. World grain reserves are at their lowest levels since 1974, owing to failed... 

FOOD TSUNAMI WARNING:

INVERSE RELATIONSHIP:

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd November 2012 The more South Africans talk about manufacturing and reindustrialisation, the worse it seems to get. Manufacturing output fell by 1.1% year-on-year in September. The decline followed on from an annual increase of 2.8% in August and was well below the expectation of a 0.5% rise for the month.... 

INVERSE RELATIONSHIP:

CROSSED LINE:

By: Darlene Creamer     16th November 2012 The surprise resignation of Telkom CEO Nombulelo ‘Pinky’ Moholi serves to highlight just how untenable it can become for executives when government wants to be active both as shareholder and policy setter. Government now needs to take full responsibility for the problems afflicting the group and... 

CROSSED LINE:

CLOSED, AT LAST:

By: Darlene Creamer     9th November 2012 Following several delays, government has moved to sign the agreements necessary to enable the first wind and solar projects, identified as preferred bidders under South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme in December 2011, to move to financial closure. It’s now time for... 

CLOSED, AT LAST:

SHOCKING SEQUEL:

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd November 2012 South Africans must have felt a genuine sense of déjà vu last week when Eskom released its latest tariff request to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa. Double-digit hikes have become the horrible norm for electricity consumers, big and small. What was refreshing, though, was the level... 

SHOCKING SEQUEL:

CASH BURN:

By: Darlene Creamer     26th October 2012 Hours after Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner burned towards earth at supersonic speed, SAA revealed some seriously speedy cash burn of its own. It emerged that, during the airline’s 2011/12 financial year, cash and cash equivalents fell from R2.3-billion in the previous financial year to a... 

CASH BURN:

JUMPING AIRSHIP:

By: Darlene Creamer     19th October 2012 The resignations at South African Airways have come thick and fast over the past few weeks, with some executives, including CEO Siza Mzimela, joining their nonexecutive colleagues in jumping (air)ship. The shareholder Minister, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigba, appears intent on taking... 

JUMPING AIRSHIP:

TAKING A BEATING:

By: Darlene Creamer     12th October 2012 South Africa’s image has taken a serious beating since the tragic events of August 16, which took place near the Marikana mine, in the North West province. But it’s not only Marikana and the subsequent series of wildcat strikes that have caused the damage. Against the backdrop of ongoing... 

TAKING A BEATING:

TORNADO WARNING:

By: Darlene Creamer     5th October 2012 The tragic and traumatic events that unfolded near the Marikana mine, in the North West province, on August 16, continue to reverberate. The nature of the settlement agreement also appears to have created the conditions of a perfect labour-market storm. What it will all eventually mean for a... 

TORNADO WARNING:

PUNCH DRUNK:

By: Darlene Creamer     28th September 2012 The South African economy is being hit on all fronts. Growth continues to be sluggish and there are new inflation concerns as energy prices rise and the rand weakens. In addition, our imports are outpacing our exports, which resulted in the deficit on the trade account of the balance of payments... 

PUNCH DRUNK:

BENEFICIATION BLOW-OUT:

By: Darlene Creamer     21st September 2012 An inverse relationship has developed between government pontification on the virtues of beneficiation and the reality at South Africa’s existing beneficiation plants. Ferrochrome producers, in particular, have been warning for years that, unless active measures are taken to preserve the sector,... 

BENEFICIATION BLOW-OUT:

HARD TIMES:

By: Darlene Creamer     14th September 2012 As the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) prepares for its national congress later this month, its general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, appears to be between the proverbial rock and a hard place. There is the immediate dilemma of having to display unity in light of the recent tragic... 

HARD TIMES:

REPUTATION WRECKING BALL:

By: Darlene Creamer     7th September 2012 Nearly a month after the horrific events that took place near Lonmin’s Marikana mine, in the North West province, South Africa is still experiencing the reputational fallout. Rebuilding that lost reputation is going to require a major rethink about the role and responsibilities of large... 

REPUTATION WRECKING BALL:

TIME TO REFLECT:

31st August 2012 The tragic events that took place near Lonim’s Marikana mine, in the North West province, have left all South Africans shocked and depressed. This shameful moment demands deep reflection on the state of society. It’s a timely reminder that prevailing levels of inequality and poverty are a serious... 

TIME TO REFLECT:

OFF COURSE:

By: Darlene Creamer     24th August 2012 At least the serious issues surrounding SA Express’s financial statements have resulted in some far-reaching changes to the governance structures at the airline. To be sure, unless things are put back on track quickly, the flying public is going to have second thoughts about using the regional... 

OFF COURSE:

HEAVY LIFTING:

By: Darlene Creamer     17th August 2012 South Africa’s ambassador to the US Ebrahim Rasool has warned that there should be no complacency, or presumption, among government, business and labour over the automatic extension of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) beyond September 30, 2015 – Agoa offers African products duty-free... 

HEAVY LIFTING:

SWIMMING LESSONS:

By: Darlene Creamer     10th August 2012 Are there any lessons for the South African economic policymakers and businesspeople from the sensational Olympic victories by swimmers Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos? One could be that, while practice, determination and vision are essential, in the end it comes down to bold execution.... 

SWIMMING LESSONS:

POOR PAPER TRAIL:

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd August 2012 Auditor-general Terence Nombembe’s report on the state of municipal accounts makes for dismal reading. It shows that there was R11-billion in unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure in 2010/11. The report highlights a lack of consequences for financial maladministration and... 

POOR PAPER TRAIL:

NEXT ROUND:

By: Darlene Creamer     27th July 2012 South Africa is all set for another arduous round of power tariff deliberations as Eskom puts the final touches to its submission to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa). The utility is in mandatory consultations with the National Treasury and the South African Local Government... 

NEXT ROUND:

WATER WARNING:

By: Darlene Creamer     20th July 2012 Last week’s intervention by the Gauteng North High Court – giving the Gert Sibande municipality 72 hours to provide 17 000 citizens of Carolina, in Mpumalanga, with potable water – is a timely reminder of the downside risks associated with failing to move assertively and decisively to deal with... 

WATER WARNING:

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