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Darlene Creamer

By Darlene Creamer

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HANGING ON

23rd February 2024

HANGING ON: There was a near audible sigh of relief when ArcelorMittal South Africa announced a six-month deferral to its plan to close its loss-making long-products business. While the group sees... 


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BUDGETARY MAZE

16th February 2024

It is now almost impossible to remember a time when commentators were not describing the South African Budget as the most difficult ever for a post-apartheid Finance Minister to navigate. Given... 


ADDING CAPACITY

ADDING CAPACITY

9th February 2024

Concerns over under-investment into South Africa’s electricity grid have come to the fore strongly in recent years, with the lack of connection capacity having already prevented the construction of... 


ADMINISTRATIVE KNOT: The continued growth and development of South Africa’s mining industry is stated policy. Sustaining the sector’s jobs, tax and export contribution requires ongoing exploration and development. This, to replenish resources and reserves ahead of the rate of depletion and to create new sources of production. Doing so, particularly in a highly regulated setting, requires clear and efficient administration of exploration and mining rights. Currently, the system is so broken there is a real risk of the industry’s lifeblood being cut off.

ADMINISTRATIVE KNOT

2nd February 2024

The continued growth and development of South Africa’s mining industry is stated policy. Sustaining the sector’s jobs, tax and export contribution requires ongoing exploration and development.... 


THE WORLD VOTES

THE WORLD VOTES

26th January 2024

Countries making up over 60% of the world's economic output and more than half of its population hold elections this year, including South Africa. While this should be a sign that democracy is... 


LONG SHADOW

LONG SHADOW

19th January 2024

It is difficult to argue against the principles underpinning the National Health Insurance Bill, approved by lawmakers late last year. As with all legislative interventions, however, the devil is... 


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NOWHERE TO HIDE

15th December 2023

2023 has been a difficult year for South Africans. Besides being the worst-ever year yet for growth-sapping and jobs-destroying loadshedding, the years of corruption and mismanagement at Transnet... 


The most recent bout of Stage 6 loadshedding by Eskom was not only a reminder that South Africa is far away from truly tackling the scourge, with the current focus on fixing Eskom in preference to adding new capacity proving itself, yet again, to be a high-risk strategy. It was also a tipping point for the country’s mood, which lifted slightly during the relative electricity stability that accompanied the Springboks’ World Cup triumph – an unhappy mood shift from pure joy to deep-seated anger.

GRIEF & ANGER

8th December 2023

The most recent bout of Stage 6 loadshedding by Eskom was not only a reminder that South Africa is far away from truly tackling the scourge, with the current focus on fixing Eskom in preference to... 


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COSTLY CONGESTION

1st December 2023

The pile-up of ships outside South African ports is a costly reminder of the risks associated with mismanagement and corruption at a State-owned monopoly. Some vessels have been left at anchorage... 


UNJUST EXECUTIONER: While politicians often have an uncomfortable relationship with the truth, there was once a time when their commentary at least arose from a common set of facts. No longer. ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula is but one of a growing list of politicians using some of the “alternative facts” that have come to envelop the country’s Just Energy Transition Partnership. This executioner of the truth stated falsely recently that the funding had “decapacitated us to the point where we are loadshedding today”. The accusation is not only wrong but dangerous.

UNJUST EXECUTIONER

24th November 2023

While politicians often have an uncomfortable relationship with the truth, there was once a time when their commentary at least arose from a common set of facts. No longer. ANC secretary-general... 


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FESTIVE CARTON

17th November 2023

With millions of chickens having been killed over the past few months in response to an outbreak of avian flu, supplies of eggs have run low and prices have spiked. So precious have eggs become... 


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FIGHTING FIRES

10th November 2023

As has been the case for several years and with several of his predecessors, South Africa’s poor growth rate continues to act as the main constraint in enabling Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to... 


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FOUR THE PEOPLE

3rd November 2023

Given how divisive both rugby and the Springboks were in the not-so-distant past, it is quite remarkable that the national team has become such a unifying force when divisions are growing in so... 


DOG WHISTLER: With no sense of irony, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe continues to champion gas exploration and development while fighting internal Cabinet power struggles using the analogy of the warning that mice offer when running away from dangerous levels of methane underground. This, while continually blowing a dog whistle against non-governmental organisations that have done little more than insist that government stick to its own laws and policies. He’s whistling a wrong and dangerous tune.

DOG WHISTLER

27th October 2023

With no sense of irony, Minerals Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe continues to champion gas exploration and development while fighting internal Cabinet power struggles using the analogy... 


RED CARD: The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), which is meant to support workers who lose their jobs, stands accused of serious foul play, with organised business and labour having both called for the fund to be placed under immediate administration. Besides alleged operational dysfunction, there is also deep unhappiness over the UIF’s decision to invest R5-billion in a well-connected company, Thuja Capital, which was hastily registered days before the award to pursue an “untested concept” to create jobs.

RED CARD

20th October 2023

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), which is meant to support workers who lose their jobs, stands accused of serious foul play, with organised business and labour having both called for the fund... 


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FALLING SHORT

13th October 2023

The day after the National Development Plan was officially launched on August 15, 2012, was one of the darkest in South Africa’s history and the darkest since the advent of democracy. On August 16,... 


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EXTREME FORECAST

6th October 2023

As South Africa’s 2024 election approaches, the is a huge incentive for the incumbents to ramp-up spending and to announce new projects and initiatives. The problem they have this time round is... 


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PRESSURE COOKER

29th September 2023

South Africa’s national accounts are facing pressures from every angle. With growth still flatlining on the back of extreme loadshedding, a collapse in freight rail and many municipal services,... 


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TRAIN WRECK

22nd September 2023

The collapse in the performance of Transnet is well documented. The State-owned freight logistics group has been left broke and broken and there are growing indications that it too will be seeking... 


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IRRESISTIBLE FORCE PARADOX

15th September 2023

With elections looming, the governing party is unlikely to want to pull in its spending horns. However, the National Treasury is warning that it needs to do just that to avoid a looming debt... 


SANDS OF TIME: The Koeberg life-extension project is running years late and, with ongoing contractor claims, its final budget remains uncertain. For the nuclear plant to operate beyond July 2024, many more physical and licence-compliance steps are still required, including the separation of the unit licences to allow Unit 2 to remain operational until the end of 2025. The regulator is said to have many questions and it is possible that, despite all the money and effort, Koeberg could be shut for a protracted period from the middle of next year.

SANDS OF TIME

8th September 2023

The Koeberg life-extension project is running years late and, with ongoing contractor claims, its final budget remains uncertain. For the nuclear plant to operate beyond July 2024, many more... 


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RELUCTANT REFORMER

1st September 2023

Government continually finds reasons, real and imagined, for failing to follow through with the structural reforms that have been identified as urgent to place the country on a growth pathway. The... 


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HEAT IS ON

25th August 2023

The Copernicus Climate Change Service has confirmed July to have been the hottest month on record, with a global average temperature of 16.95°C surpassing the previous record set in 2019 by 0.33°C.... 


UPHILL STRUGGLE: While Some Eskom coal power stations are operating more stably and various private generation projects are offering some relief, loadshedding continues to weigh down the real economy. Manufacturers, farmers and miners don’t only face production disruptions but those reliant on domestic sales are facing the added problem of weak downstream demand as production shifts are curtailed and response to the cuts. Those reliant on exports, meanwhile, then face the added stress of a failing fright logistics network. It’s a real Sisyphean task.

UPHILL STRUGGLE

18th August 2023

While Some Eskom coal power stations are operating more stably and various private generation projects are offering some relief, loadshedding continues to weigh down the real economy.... 


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STOP GAP

11th August 2023

In many of Gauteng’s affluent suburbs it has become common to see banners highlighting resident-funded works programmes to fix potholes, cut grass and repair pavements. At a national level, similar... 


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EXPLOSIVE DECLINE

4th August 2023

Residents and businesses that fall within the boundaries of the City of Johannesburg have always known that the council’s old slogan ‘a world-class African city’ was more aspirational than factual.... 


BURNING PLATFORM: The torching of more than 20 trucks in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga brought back nasty memories of the July 2021 riots, which shook South Africa to its core. The motives are not immediately clear, but it appears that the actions go beyond toxic xenophobia and mafia-style muscle flexing and include an element of political intimidation, even terrorism. What is clear is that the torchings – together with sabotage at Eskom and Transnet, as well as construction-site hijacking – are further undermining investor confidence.

BURNING PLATFORM

28th July 2023

The torching of more than 20 trucks in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga brought back nasty memories of the July 2021 riots, which shook South Africa to its core. The motives are not... 


ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA

ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA

21st July 2023

Much of the hostility between Twitter’s Elon Musk and Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg ahead of the launch of Meta’s Threads tended to combine toxic masculinity with ego-fuelled bravado, epitomised by the... 


DESTRUCTIVE FORCE: Whether it was a tornado or a landspout the strong winds associated with the recent weather phenomenon that hit Inanda and Phoenix, in KwaZulu-Natal, left a deadly trail of destruction in its wake. As with the climate crisis, which is leading to more frequent and extreme weather events, South Africa’s youth unemployment rate is building with catastrophic force. The most recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey shows that youth aged 15 to 24 years and 25 to 34 years recorded the highest unemployment rates of 62.1% and 40.7% respectively, against an overall official rate of 32.9%.

DESTRUCTIVE FORCE

14th July 2023

Whether it was a tornado or a landspout the strong winds associated with the recent weather phenomenon that hit Inanda and Phoenix, in KwaZulu-Natal, left a deadly trial of destruction in its wake.... 


BREAKING POINT: In the years preceding the start of the loadshedding crisis in 2007, electricity commentators would regularly warn that the distribution sector was emerging as South Africa’s weakest link. That reality was masked by the subsequent collapse in performance of Eskom’s generation fleet and the delay to the megaprojects meant to close the supply gap. That mask has now started to slip, with distribution-level faults having become far more frequent and much longer in duration and are arguably causing more disruption to business and households than loadshedding.

BREAKING POINT

7th July 2023

In the years preceding the start of the loadshedding crisis in 2007, electricity commentators would regularly warn that the distribution sector was emerging as South Africa’s weakest link. That... 


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BAND-AIDS & BAILOUTS

30th June 2023

Although there is a degree of acceptance that South Africa needs to restructure its highly unequal health system, there is nevertheless genuine concern over the proposed National Health Insurance... 


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DANGEROUS DECLINE

23rd June 2023

While it is positive that the Blue Drop, Green Drop and No Drop reports are again being published after a gap of several years, the reports themselves point to a worrying decline in the status of... 


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GRID-LOCKED

16th June 2023

A lack of investment into South Africa’s grid over the past number of decades is at last being recognised as a major constraint to the integration of much-needed new generation, such as the wind... 


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DARK HUMOUR

9th June 2023

South Africans are known to use humour as a coping mechanism against many of the difficulties they face, from nonsensical political statements to corruption and incompetence. Citizens have become... 


DARK CLOUD: South Africans can see and feel the devastating effects of daily power cuts on their lives and livelihoods. By contrast, the country’s literacy crisis is far less visible but its impacts are likely to be even more devastating if not addressed. The 2021 Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study shows that the percentage of Grade 4 learners, children aged either nine or ten years old, who cannot read for meaning in any language has increase to over 81%. In 2016, the figure stood at 78%.

DARK CLOUD

2nd June 2023

South Africans can see and feel the devastating effects of daily power cuts on their lives and livelihoods. The country’s literacy crisis, by contrast, is far less visible but its impacts are... 


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CHOPPY WATERS

26th May 2023

At the time of writing, there was still no clarity as to whether South African defence equipment or ammunition had been loaded onto the Russian cargo vessel the Lady R, when it docked at the... 


DANGER SIGNS: South Africa’s non-aligned foreign policy stance was relatively straightforward to maintain when the world was globalising and democratising. Conditions have turned decidedly hostile in recent years, however, with geopolitical tensions manifesting not only in trade wars but in real ones. If South Africa is to sustain its approach, it will need to become far more proactive in defining what it means rather than reacting to developments in a way that could see it either sliding unwittingly into one or other camp, or becoming entirely irrelevant on the international stage.

DANGER SIGNS

19th May 2023

South Africa’s non-aligned foreign policy stance was relatively straightforward to maintain when the world was globalising and democratising. Conditions have turned decidedly hostile in recent... 


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MIXED MESSAGES

12th May 2023

The appointment of a dedicated Minister of Electricity was meant to ensure there was an individual to focus full-time on ending loadshedding and ensuring that the widely consulted Energy Action... 


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WINTER WARNING

5th May 2023

While there has been a Game of Thrones-like tussle over the precise role that South Africa’s Electricity Minister will play, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has become pretty consistent on one issue: the... 


BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE: Even for those who have been living through the decline and have, thus, become somewhat oblivious, the dismal state of South Africa’s infrastructure is now almost impossible to ignore. Be it collapsed power pylons, railways stations stripped to concrete ruins, chronic cable theft, or the potholes that pockmark just about every road, the decay is frighteningly visible. For President Cyril Ramaphosa, and perhaps some particularly robust entrepreneurs, there’s an upside. “There are indeed opportunities in this crisis,” he told investors at the fifth Investment Conference earlier this month.

BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE

28th April 2023

Even for those who have been living through the decline and have, thus, become somewhat oblivious, the dismal state of South Africa’s infrastructure is now almost impossible to ignore. Be it... 


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FLIP FLOPS

21st April 2023

The termination of the electricity state of disaster and the withdrawal of a poorly worded Gazette notice exempting Eskom from having to include details of irregular, fruitless and wasteful... 


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