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No laughing matter

February 9, 2018

2016, 2017, 2018 – it’s all becoming a blur of similarity.

I’ve just paged through the 2017 Transport Manager’s Handbook and read the editor’s letter I wrote for that edition – I’ll admit, with a bit of a giggle… Not because my writing was witty and humorous, but because so much, yet so little, has changed in the interleading time.

I commented how 2016 had been seen by anyone with an opinion to be a year they’d rather forget, and how many analysts and economists had expected our economy to begin improving by the middle of 2017. In the meantime, industry commentators had expected a stable year for the local commercial-vehicle market.

And then Zuma reshuffled his cabinet (once more), the ratings agencies pulled out their red pens, and the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) dropped to negligible levels. Months of (small) ups and downs followed, characterising the economy and new-vehicle market in similar measure.

At the end of the year, the market ended roughly 2,5 percent down on 2016.

Should we expect more of the same in 2018? The optimist in me looks back at that 2017 editor’s letter and still thinks this is another “new year with new beginnings, new opportunities and new positivity”, and that “things have to start looking rosier at some point”.

Happily, the ANC’s December conference pointed to the possibility of positivity and a rosier outlook by taking a stance against Zuma’s wanton devastation to the party and the country. There were also some policy comments made that were seen by some to be questionable, but, on the whole, the markets retorted with a cheerful little spike.

Of course, it’s too early to celebrate – there is a long road to be travelled and the country itself needs a new leadership with exceptionally strong resolve to turn things around and get GDP up. We need upwards of five percent to begin to create meaningful employment and growth – and it will not come easily.

So, as 2018 gains momentum, we sit in the position of things being the same, but different. One thing’s for certain, the 12 months ahead will certainly be interesting.

I wonder if I’ll giggle at that thought next year…

My life has always revolved around anything with wheels and an engine. It doesn’t matter if its an old banger, the latest hot-hatch or a fancy 4×4 – any excuse is a good excuse to take it for a cruise, spank it at the track or go bundu-bashing (the mud-and-rocks-side-of-a-mountain type, not the exploring-Joburg’s-pavements type). Otherwise, chances are you’ll find me lying underneath one of my beloved toys or with my head buried in its engine bay, tinkering away.

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