The revelations tumbling out of the Parktown Pandora’s Box opened by the Zondo commission will certainly mean that, due to the previous nine years of looting public coffers, public spending on long-awaited infrastructure projects will simply not happen in the near future. If the lack of government spending was not a big enough blow to our industry, the talk of land expropriation, a declining Rand and, closer to home, drought, continued destruction of Metrorail train carriages and ongoing service delivery protests, would seem enough reason to knock the lights out of any private building initiatives as well.

This is according to John Slingsby, President of the Master Builders Association of the Western Cape (MBAWC) – a registered trade association for employers in the building industry. He unpacked the state of the industry in South Africa generally, and the Western Cape in particular, at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting:

“While the construction industry has managed to put food on my family’s table for more than three generations, this last year has been a tough one for all of us. However, we need to be patient given the very poor hand that our new President Cyril Ramaphosa was dealt. Despite the emotional concerns around land reform, to-date he has been doing the right things to get the country back on track. After many years of mismanagement and a very poor economy, there are rays of hope that will hopefully transform into improved economic growth in the next six to 12 months. Successful recent talks with China and the UK all bode well for a cash injection into our distressed economy, which will hopefully pave the path to recovery.

Even though we will have to wait for these investments to bear fruit, there is still construction activity in the Western Cape – a good sign during this dark spell. You only need to take a short drive along the Atlantic Seaboard to notice the amount of developments that are going up. Any astute private developer surely knows that there are quality builders, subcontractors and suppliers who will provide their services for a reduced cost in these times. The number of these developments are also a testament to how sought after the Western Cape actually is.”

Slingsby concluded by saying that despite current tough times, it is important that we work together and be prepared for the inevitable upturn.

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Crown Publications, one of South Africa’s largest business-to-business publishing houses, came into existence in 1986. Since then, the company has grown from producing a single magazine, Electricity SA (renamed Electricity+Control), to publishing six monthly magazines, three quarterlies, and a number of engineering handbooks.