Not quite the “Glorious Summer” yet

April 2018

The building and construction Industry in South Africa has entered a phase of cautious optimism. Things are looking up and projects are coming out of the ground. We have moved on from our desperate discontent to a season of hope, at least.

John Matthews, President – Master Builders South Africa

And it’s clear, amid some continued uncertainty, that a change of national leadership has been pivotally involved in the story of the country’s climb from all–pervasive gloom.

We’re tentatively betting on the new broom, President Cyril Ramaphosa, to do his bit towards helping return the country to somewhere near the glorious international status that followed the change of regime late in the 1900s. That was the closest we have come, as a nation, to a Shakespearean ‘glorious summer’ so far.

For the first time, as the leader of the majority party and the country, our new President is actively facing some of the issues thrown up so long ago, by the new dispensation that was cemented in the Constitution. And he’s got a tough gig.

How he and his colleagues negotiate their way through this, will influence our future economic health and social stability – factors that are vital to the construction sector in particular. But is it all up to the politicians?

What does emerge from a scan of the building and property gurus’ predictions for the rest of this year and the following few years, is the huge, almost exclusive, reliance that South African industry, of all kinds, is placing on political leadership.

John Loos, FNB’s strategist, for instance, reckons that house prices will rise, following the recent 0.25 drop in the repo rate, to near 5%. That’s a light breeze. Not the storm wind South Africa needs to speed up growth. Others are equally concerned that political decisions are key. And they are. But a society less easily influenced by the all-too available social media pronouncements of political figures promoting their own agendas, is equally capable of creating change, if only by questioning and holding those that represent us, to account.

As an industry, we are often subjected to conditions that don’t suit our carefully-factored efficiencies. But officialdom is inclined to have the last word. It is time that we, as an industry, insisted on making bigger decisions from our position of expertise and experience rather than from the dictates of a bureaucracy mired in throttling legislation that does less to regulate and more to strangle the fast progress of delivery.

What is needed is a resolution, not a revolution with no purpose.

John

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