JOB losses are increasing, food and fuel prices soaring and house repossessions increasing - yet, depressingly, one does not get a sense that the government is urgently doing anything to avert disaster.
The slower the response to the ballooning economic disaster, the more costly it will be and the longer it will take to undo its effects.
Of course, President Jacob Zuma's cabinet is still setting up new departments, but SA just can't wait another six to nine months for action on the economic front.
Firstly, we need the equivalent of a war council now to tackle this crisis.
Zuma must invite the best talent in the country - from civil society, business, government and academia - to forge an emergency strategy.
There must be immediate stimulus - one short term and the other long term. The short-term element must be to freeze all home repossessions and call for a 12-month holiday for this in arrears, in which time the loans will be renegotiated.
Secondly, there has to be a big-bang drop in interest rates, rather than incremental decreases.
Thirdly, there has to be an immediate cap on basic food price rises.
It's good that the Competitions Commission is investigating supermarket chains for possible collusion to keep the price of basic food stuffs high - yet it's not enough.
The price of petrol increased by between 37 and 40 cents a litre, and the price of illuminating paraffin by an astonishing 62 cents a litre.
The Department of Mineral and Energy affairs says that from May 29 to June 25 the average price of petrol, diesel and illuminating paraffin has risen with the rise of the rand-US dollar exchange rate, which was at 8,1093 compared to 8,4371 during the previous period.
Surely the Reserve Bank should intervene directly to bring down the value of the rand?
To date this year the rand has gained about 20 percent against the dollar and the euro, which makes it difficult for the struggling manufacturing sector to recover since it makes SA's exports abroad more expensive.
Manufacturing used to contribute up to 22 percent of the GDP. It's now down to about 15 percent and declining.
Those who say we should not directly intervene to weaken the rand because it might raise inflation, must have their heads read.
What is the priority here - a small increment in inflation with better economic conditions; or low inflation with massive job losses, home losses, factory closures and fuel price increases with the related social costs?
Zuma must also put a ceiling on price increases by parastatals, municipalities and government agencies, effective immediately, and enforced it at least for the next year.
It is appalling that the National Energy Regulator of SA could approve Eskom's price increase of 31,3 percent.
Perhaps it's time for a wage increase freeze at the top end of the public sector management, including for MPs and government ministers.
We are at the beginning of an economic disaster; there have to be drastic emergency measures.
We need firm leadership, Comrade Zuma, and quickly also.
Gumede is the author of Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC .