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DEEP HOLE

By: Darlene Creamer     27th November 2020 South Africa’s official unemployment rate hit a record high of 30.8% in the third quarter, with the expanded definition of unemployment, which includes discouraged work seekers, rising to a catastrophic 43.1%. Joblessness has been this country’s biggest problem for decades, fuelling the twin... 

DEEP HOLE

OUT OF RUNWAY

By: Darlene Creamer     20th November 2020 It’s now painfully clear that the controversial decision to allocate a further R10.5-billion to South African Airways (SAA) will not be sufficient to get the grounded national carrier flying again. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has indicated that it will be up to the much-vaunted... 

OUT OF RUNWAY

WAVE WARNING

By: Darlene Creamer     13th November 2020 Although many more South Africans may well have contracted Covid-19, absent any symptoms, than the official statistics suggest, we are not out of the woods. Indeed, the holiday season holds perils for the health system that may well only display themselves in early 2021. Yes, a vaccine may be on... 

WAVE WARNING

RADICAL REALIGNMENT

By: Darlene Creamer     6th November 2020 Transnet CEO Portia Derby has promised that the State-owned group will overhaul its approach to the concessioning of port and rail opportunities. Its current model has been deemed far to slow and cumbersome and has yielded only a handful of private-sector participation projects over several... 

RADICAL REALIGNMENT

PLUGGING IN

By: Darlene Creamer     30th October 2020 The Gazette notice amending electricity regulations to allow municipalities in good financial standing to develop or buy their own power could be a game changer. There are concerns, though, that the amendments may be too restrictive, as they require municipalities to jump through several hoops to... 

PLUGGING IN

MISSING INGREDIENTS

By: Darlene Creamer     23rd October 2020 Despite moonlighting as a Twitter chef, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni simply lacks the key ingredients of growth and revenue to make South Africa’s fiscal position appear hearty and healthy. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has precipitated a steep fall in revenue and a surge in debt, is also... 

MISSING INGREDIENTS

CONVICTIONS NEEDED

By: Darlene Creamer     16th October 2020 The recent spate of arrests related to various instances of alleged corruption has been treated with a mixture of delight and circumspection. Despite most of these arrest coming far too late, many citizens are nevertheless pleased to see that action is at last being taken. That delight is tainted... 

CONVICTIONS NEEDED

THE OTHER LOCKDOWN

By: Darlene Creamer     9th October 2020 The move to a Level 1 Covid-19 lockdown, including the opening up of borders, will help the South African economy to begin its painful recovery from the pandemic. The ongoing threat of load-shedding will make it difficult, however, for the country to make a clean break from the low-growth,... 

THE OTHER LOCKDOWN

WALKING A TIGHTROPE

By: Darlene Creamer     2nd October 2020 South Africa has, correctly, transitioned to a Level 1 Covid-19 lockdown, with its healthcare system showing little sign of being overwhelmed and its economy in dire need of a jumpstart. It should not be a signal that the virus no longer poses a threat. This, despite indications that South Africa... 

WALKING A TIGHTROPE

HOSTILE CLIMATE

By: Darlene Creamer     25th September 2020 There have been several signs this year, the most recent being the California wildfires, that the climate crisis is not a mere distant threat, but a clear and present danger. While many factors determine the extent and risk of wildfires, some of these, such as temperature and soil moisture, are... 

HOSTILE CLIMATE

DRAMATIC DROP

By: Darlene Creamer     18th September 2020 The steep contraction in South Africa’s second quarter gross domestic product – 51.2% when annualised and seasonally adjusted and 16.4% quarter on quarter – was not entirely unexpected in light of South Africa’s aggressive Covid-19 lockdown. Less certain, however, is whether there is a coherent... 

DRAMATIC DROP

READY TO SPRING

By: Darlene Creamer     11th September 2020 In a recent interview with Sunday Times, Hermione Cronje, who heads the National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigating Directorate, said that the first charges against high-profile individuals implicated in State capture should be made in September, which is Spring in South Africa. These charges... 

READY TO SPRING

HACKING PANDEMIC

By: Darlene Creamer     4th September 2020 South Africa was hit by a massive data breach in August after Experian, one of the country’s biggest credit bureaus, was hacked. Experian said the personal information details of as many as 24-million South Africans, and nearly 800 000 businesses, were “exposed to a suspected fraudster”. The... 

HACKING PANDEMIC

WAVES OF DESTRUCTION

By: Darlene Creamer     28th August 2020 There may be much talk about a possible Covid-19 second wave, but there is now little doubt that we are in for wave upon wave of confidence-sapping load-shedding. With this scourge having been afflicting South Africa for over a decade and with the energy availability factor from Eskom’s... 

WAVES OF DESTRUCTION

VACCINE RACE

By: Darlene Creamer     21st August 2020 By naming its Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V, Russia did not even attempt to disguise the fact that it views the race for a vaccine as integral to its broader efforts to secure international prestige and a geopolitical edge. Cutting corners in the way it conducted the clinical trials is dangerous,... 

VACCINE RACE

DEADLY PANDEMIC

By: Darlene Creamer     14th August 2020 South Africa’s murder rate remains at pandemic-like levels. During the 2019/20 period covered by the latest crime statistics, murders in South Africa rose by 1.4% to 21 325, which translates to 36 murders for every 100 00 people living in the country. The most common causes of murder are... 

DEADLY PANDEMIC

COVID IN COMMAND 

By: Darlene Creamer     7th August 2020 To navigate the Covid-19 pandemic and keep economic activity going ahead of the discovery of a safe vaccine that can be administered on a massive scale, adherence to the ‘Three Cs’ is critical. Besides wearing a mask and practicing hand hygiene, this means avoiding ‘Crowded Places’, ‘Confined... 

COVID IN COMMAND

MANY FRACTURES

By: Darlene Creamer     31st July 2020 As United Nations secretary-general António Guterres put it when delivering the 18th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture on July 18: “Covid-19 has been likened to an X-ray, revealing fractures in the fragile skeleton of the societies we have built.” Recovering from this pandemic and setting society on... 

MANY FRACTURES

DIVIDED OPINION

By: Darlene Creamer     24th July 2020 The decision to reimpose a ban on the sale of alcohol during South Africa’s Level 3 lockdown has divided opinion. Supporters view the ban as rational, arguing that alcohol-abuse-induced trauma cases should decline materially, freeing up much needed hospital capacity to deal with the Covid-19... 

DIVIDED OPINION

COLLECTIVE EFFORT

By: Darlene Creamer     17th July 2020 It’s mid-July, and South Africa is, sadly, in the middle of its dreaded, and predicted, Covid-19 surge. Now is not the time for complacency or fatalism, however. South Africans need to double down on their physical-distancing, hand-hygiene and nonpharmaceutical-intervention efforts. Without... 

COLLECTIVE EFFORT

HERCULEAN TASK

By: Darlene Creamer     10th July 2020 South Africa does indeed face what Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has described as a ‘Herculean Task’ if it is to navigate the twin Covid-19 and economic crises, while also avoiding a debt trap. Pencils will have to be sharpened and erasers will have to be on hand if South Africa is to make the... 

HERCULEAN TASK

WAITING TO EXPLODE

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd July 2020 South Africa will inevitably have to take on more debt as it seeks to address the economic, health and social damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. That said, the country needs to be extremely wary of allowing the pandemic to light the fuse on a full-blown debt crisis. A failure in this regard... 

WAITING TO EXPLODE

FISSION QUESTIONS

By: Darlene Creamer     26th June 2020 The priority being given to the procurement of new nuclear capacity by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has many scratching their heads. For one, there is no allocation for nuclear in the Integrated Resource Plan 2019 (IRP 2019) to 2030. There is no sign that the private... 

FISSION QUESTIONS

STIMULUS PRIORITIES 

By: Darlene Creamer     19th June 2020 South Africa’s fiscal space was already limited ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic. Today, it’s close to non-existent. The postpandemic fiscal priority, therefore, should be to ensure that every rand spent has the greatest economic and social impact possible so as to extricate the country from what... 

STIMULUS PRIORITIES

HEAT IS ON

By: Darlene Creamer     12th June 2020 Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will present his special adjustment Budget on June 24, realigning the 2020/21 Budget presented in February to the fiscal and economic realities now confronting South Africa in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mboweni is refusing to call it an emergency Budget,... 

HEAT IS ON

SECOND NATURE

By: Darlene Creamer     5th June 2020 In welcoming the transition from lockdown Level 4 to Level 3 from, organised business immediately recognised that the pressure was now on its members to prove that the easing they had long sought could be implemented safely. Business Unity South Africa president Sipho Pityana said it was critical... 

SECOND NATURE

TRICKY NEXT STEPS

By: Darlene Creamer     29th May 2020 Some have described hard lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 pandemic as the ‘hammer’ and easing as the ‘dance’. South Africans are going to have to show remarkable skill and agility as we begin our own dance. Besides wearing face masks, engaging in physical distancing and continuing with... 

TRICKY NEXT STEPS

FALLING FAST

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd May 2020 The economic outlook for 2020 is beyond dismal. While the South African government’s swift and decisive response to the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be faulted, it has come at a huge economic cost. Thousands of businesses are in grave peril and millions of jobs are at risk. Business confidence has... 

FALLING FAST

RISING FROM THE ASHES

By: Darlene Creamer     15th May 2020 Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan disagrees strongly with any winding down of South African Airways (SAA), which he says was never the original purpose of the business rescue process. Nevertheless, with South Africa’s fiscal resources stretched to breaking point as finance is redirected... 

RISING FROM THE ASHES

ON A KNIFE-EDGE

By: Darlene Creamer     8th May 2020 The restrictions imposed to delay the spread of the Covid-19 virus have given our healthcare system much needed space and time to prepare for a peak in infections. As the lockdown restrictions are eased South Africans would do well not to adopt a fatalistic stance regarding the spread of... 

ON A KNIFE-EDGE

PROCEED WITH CAUTION

By: Darlene Creamer     1st May 2020 South Africa desperately needs to get its already fragile economy going again. The extended lockdown has left many firms in a precarious position and millions of jobs are on the line. As operations ramp-up, however, it cannot be business as usual. Sensible precautions will have to be taken to... 

PROCEED WITH CAUTION

NEXT PHASE

By: Darlene Creamer     24th April 2020 As Professor Salim Abdool Karim so expertly outlined in his April presentation outlining the possible next steps for tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, South Africa will need to find ways to extinguish any small flames of the disease that emerge post-lockdown so as to ensure that they do not become... 

NEXT PHASE

REFORM & STIMULATE

By: Darlene Creamer     17th April 2020 The effectiveness of South Africa’s economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic could be significantly boosted if it is accompanied by the structural reforms that have long been required to bolster the country’s growth potential. In the absence of such reforms in areas such as energy and... 

REFORM & STIMULATE

COVID-19 FALLOUT

By: Darlene Creamer     10th April 2020 The full economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are not yet clear. What is certain, however, is that the virus, and the response to it, is kicking lumps out of businesses and economies. For South Africa, it’s a triple whammy. Besides the institution of a growth-sapping lockdown in response to... 

COVID-19 FALLOUT

LOCKDOWN LEGACY

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd April 2020 The economic effects of the 21-day lockdown are likely to be painful and long lasting. The monetary authorities have acted swiftly to increase liquidity, while the fiscal authorities have also made some initial accommodations and are likely to have to make even more. It’s premature to put a... 

LOCKDOWN LEGACY

ECONOMIC HEALTH WARNING

By: Darlene Creamer     27th March 2020 There is now little question that the world economy is heading for a recession in 2020 as governments, correctly, adopt extreme measures to ‘flatten the Covid-19 curve’ such that it does not seriously breach the capacity of their health systems. The real issue now is what actions can be taken to... 

ECONOMIC HEALTH WARNING

GOING DESTRUCTIVELY VIRAL:

By: Darlene Creamer     20th March 2020 There were already some concerns at the start of 2020 that the global economy was showing signs of slowing. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, however, the outlook has worsened considerably. Frontline sectors such as aviation and tourism are under extreme pressure, but it is becoming... 

GOING DESTRUCTIVELY VIRAL:

FISCAL FIREFIGHT

By: Darlene Creamer     13th March 2020 There is little question that South Africa’s powerful public-sector unions are preparing for a showdown with government over the 2020 Budget, which contains wage-bill cuts of R160-billion over three years when compared with the baseline contained in the 2019 Budget. Cuts of R37.8-billion outlined... 

FISCAL FIREFIGHT
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