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PORT PRESSURES

By: Darlene Creamer     21st June 2024 The World Bank Port Index, which ranked South African ports near to the bottom of the global pile, is backward-looking and is, thus, not fully reflective of recent efforts made to address bottlenecks. Nevertheless, the port system still has a long way to go not only to recover from State capture... 

PORT PRESSURES

COALITION ANGST

By: Darlene Creamer     14th June 2024 Coalitions were always the most likely scenario for a country that selects political representatives using a system based on proportional representation. Nevertheless, actually moving from a majority government to one based on coalitions or cooperation is still unsettling. Doubly so, given the... 

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TARIFF THREAT

By: Darlene Creamer     7th June 2024 The reforms under way in the freight rail sector are advancing at an impressive clip and should soon open the system to new private operators. However, there are warnings of a prohibitively high tariff outcome should the methodology outlined in the draft Network Statement be introduced. 

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AFTER THE STORM

By: Darlene Creamer     31st May 2024 The election storm, which has just past, carried with it developments that were at times entertaining, at times revealing and at times downright disconcerting. Now that it has passed, attention will turn to the governance arrangements that will follow in its wake. 

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DEVASTATING

By: Darlene Creamer     24th May 2024 The deadly collapse of a building in George while under construction is simply devastating for the families of the workers who perished. It has also raised a number of questions about the state – including the state of safety – of South Africa’s building and construction industry. The industry... 



DEVASTATING: The deadly collapse of a building in George while under construction is simply devastating for the families of the workers who perished. It has also raised a number of questions about the state – including the state of safety – of South Africa’s building and construction industry. The industry today is almost unrecognisable from what it was before so many of the country’s listed building majors either closed due to financial distress or exited the sector.

THE OTHER POLL

By: Darlene Creamer     17th May 2024 There has been much discussion about South Africa’s attractiveness to investors following BHP’s bid for Anglo American’s non-South African assets and confirmation that Shell will be disinvesting from its downstream activities in the country. While these developments have more to do with corporate... 

THE OTHER POLL

HEAT IS ON

By: Darlene Creamer     10th May 2024 Reaction to BHP’s bid price for Anglo American may be cool, but it has definitely ignited renewed interest in mega mining mergers. It has also brought to the fore the importance of copper to the emerging energy transition and, more worryingly, investor weariness of South Africa as a mining... 

HEAT IS ON

COALITION MATHS

By: Darlene Creamer     3rd May 2024 With the polls suggesting that the African National Congress is unlikely to secure an outright majority in this year’s election, much attention is being given to coalition politics. While this is arguably an inevitable outcome of our proportional-representation system, many voters are rightfully... 

COALITION MATHS: With the polls suggesting that the African National Congress is unlikely to secure an outright majority in this year’s election, much attention is being given to coalition politics. While this is arguably an inevitable outcome of our proportional-representation system, many voters are rightfully concerned, given the poor performance of many municipal coalitions.

STILL FLYING

By: Darlene Creamer     26th April 2024 Years of State capture, corruption and ongoing crime and violence have left deep scars and have taken most of the gloss of any celebrations marking 30 years of democracy. Nevertheless, South Africa is still a significantly better place than it was before 1994 and has made some strides towards... 

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STORM WARNING:

By: Darlene Creamer     19th April 2024 The storms that lashed the Cape earlier this month caused devastating damage, with many still picking up the pieces. One can only hope that the coming election storm is far more benign, but some of the pre-election rhetoric is cause for concern, while some pre-election coalition pacts seem to be... 

The storms that lashed the Cape earlier this month caused devastating damage, with many still picking up the pieces. One can only hope that the coming election storm is far more benign, but some of the pre-election rhetoric is cause for concern, while some pre-election coalition pacts seem to be facing real headwinds.

UNDERWHELMED

By: Darlene Creamer     12th April 2024 While voters will receive three quite different looking ballots on May 29, this seeming increase in choice is not necessarily translating into greater excitement. Yes, some independents will feature for the first time and, yes, there are some interesting new parties. But with some form of... 

UNDERWHELMED: While voters will receive three quite different looking ballots on May 29, this seeming increase in choice is not necessarily translating into greater excitement. Yes, some independents will feature for the first time and, yes, there are some interesting new parties. But with some form of coalition likely, voter enthusiasm has been dampened by the poor performance of such arrangements at the municipal level. Before treating the day as a day off, however, South Africans would do well to remember the sacrifices made to ensure that all adult citizens have the right to vote.

SHOCKING

By: Darlene Creamer     5th April 2024 As expected, stakeholder responses to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s gas-heavy Integrated Resource Plan 2023 has been far from complementary. While still a draft, some commentators believe it should simply be recalled, given its outlandish assumptions, lack of transparency and... 

SHOCKING: As expected, stakeholder responses to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s gas-heavy Integrated Resource Plan 2023 has been far from complementary. While still a draft, some commentators believe it should simply be recalled, given its outlandish assumptions, lack of transparency and utter failure to craft a credible response to ongoing loadshedding.

WATER WORRIES

By: Darlene Creamer     29th March 2024 Gauteng’s three metropolitan councils are now failing regularly to ensure that their residents and businesses have a constant supply of water. The massive outages in March brought to the fore not only the poor state of the province’s water infrastructure, which is prone to leaks, but also... 

WATER WORRIES: Gauteng’s three metropolitan councils are now failing regularly to ensure that their residents and businesses have a constant supply of water. The massive outages in March brought to the fore not only the poor state of the province’s water infrastructure, which is prone to leaks, but also worrying capacity problems at Rand Water, both physical and human – epitomised for many by that notorious “closed valve” that prevented vital water flows for days on end.

EXTREME PRESSURE

By: Darlene Creamer     22nd March 2024 The Competition Commission’s Media and Digital Platforms Market Inquiry has thrown some light on the existential crisis being faced by South Africa’s media. Part of the problem lies in the weak economy, but a large portion arises from the disruption associated with the rise of giant digital... 

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GAS CLIFF

By: Darlene Creamer     15th March 2024 Warnings of a gas day zero in 2026 are alarming, but not new. There has however, been very little progress on possible remedies. Disputes over gas pricing have arguably made cooperation difficult, but that is what is desperately needed. All eyes are now on the government-led task team set up to... 



GAS CLIFF: Warnings of a gas day zero in 2026 are alarming, but not new. There has, however, been very little progress on possible remedies. Disputes over gas pricing have arguably made cooperation difficult, but that is what is desperately needed. All eyes are now on the government-led task team set up to develop a joint strategy and whether that strategy will be sufficient to ensure a so-called seamless transition to non-Sasol gas.

LOADSHEDDING GRIEF

By: Darlene Creamer     8th March 2024 There is grave peril in forecasting any improvement to the loadshedding outlook, as President Cyril Ramaphosa found recently when Eskom declare Stage 6 days after he suggested in his State of the Nation Address that the worst was over. Likewise, the credibility of Electricity Minister Kgosientsho... 

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OWN GOALS

By: Darlene Creamer     1st March 2024 The 2024 Budget has, once again, highlighted what happens when government scores one own goal after another. True, there have been some disruptive external shocks, most recently the Covid lockdowns and the energy shock associated with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, far too many of the... 

OWN GOALS: The 2024 Budget has, once again, highlighted what happens when government scores one own goal after another. True, there have been some disruptive external shocks, most recently the Covid lockdowns and the energy shock associated with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, far too many of the current fiscal problems stem from doing the wrong thing consistently over a long period of time. Turning the crisis around requires more than the penalty-saving heroics of our Bafana Bafana keeper.

HANGING ON 

By: Darlene Creamer     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 a plausible case for salvaging the business, it stresses that the path relies on many moving parts,... 

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BUDGETARY MAZE

By: Darlene Creamer     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 the backdrop of worsening fiscal balances and looming elections, however, it is sadly no cliché this... 

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ADDING CAPACITY

By: Darlene Creamer     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 much-needed new renewables generation. While the new curtailment framework will release some... 

ADDING CAPACITY

ADMINISTRATIVE KNOT

By: Darlene Creamer     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. This, to replenish resources and reserves ahead of the rate of depletion and to create new sources 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.

THE WORLD VOTES

By: Darlene Creamer     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 thriving, these elections come at a time when democratic values are under extreme pressure. In many... 

THE WORLD VOTES

LONG SHADOW

By: Darlene Creamer     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 truly in the detail. On this score, the Bill fails to offer assurances in the areas of affordability,... 

LONG SHADOW

NOWHERE TO HIDE

By: Darlene Creamer     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 are now being felt not only in the collapse of the rail service on key corridors, but in a port... 

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GRIEF & ANGER

By: Darlene Creamer     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 adding new capacity proving itself, yet again, to be a high-risk strategy. It was also a tipping... 

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.

COSTLY CONGESTION

By: Darlene Creamer     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 for more than two weeks, leading to the imposition of congestion charges and various other direct and... 

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UNJUST EXECUTIONER

By: Darlene Creamer     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 Fikile Mbalula is but one of a growing list of politicians using some of the “alternative facts” that... 

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.

FESTIVE CARTON

By: Darlene Creamer     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 that some may well be hoping for a carton or two as relatives and friends break out their purses in a... 

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FIGHTING FIRES

By: Darlene Creamer     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 release the resources needed to ensure social fairness, while maintaining fiscal balance. Until the... 

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FOUR THE PEOPLE

By: Darlene Creamer     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 many other areas. During what turned out to be a most stressful tournament for South African... 

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DOG WHISTLER

By: Darlene Creamer     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 of the warning that mice offer when running away from dangerous levels of methane underground.... 

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.

RED CARD

By: Darlene Creamer     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 to be placed under immediate administration. Besides alleged operational dysfunction, there is also... 

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.

FALLING SHORT

By: Darlene Creamer     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, 2012, 34 miners were shot and killed in what became known as the Marikana Massacre. The period... 

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EXTREME FORECAST

By: Darlene Creamer     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 that there is insufficient money available to sustain existing programmes, let alone embark on new... 

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PRESSURE COOKER

By: Darlene Creamer     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, revenue collection is naturally underperforming. Borrowing has been ramped up to compensate at a time... 

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TRAIN WRECK

By: Darlene Creamer     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 some form of bail-out at some point. However, given that government’s fiscal buffers have also all... 

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IRRESISTIBLE FORCE PARADOX

By: Darlene Creamer     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 crisis. In a letter seen by Sunday Times, the department outlined several drastic spending reduction steps... 

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SANDS OF TIME

By: Darlene Creamer     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 physical and licence-compliance steps are still required, including the separation of the unit licences to... 

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.
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