SACCI’s Business Confidence Index (BCI) for April 2019 improved by 1.9 index points to 93.7 compared to the March 2019 level. It is 2.3 index points below the 96.0 figure for April 2018. Five of the thirteen sub-indices of the BCI improved on their March 2019 readings. Another five remained unchanged, and three declined. The five that improved are the rand exchange rate against the major trading and investment currencies, higher share prices on the JSE, increased real value building plans passed, real retail sales, and merchandise import volumes.

A number of events impacted the business climate and business confidence during this month. The month of April has seen a massive increase in political party campaigns towards the 8th of May 2019 national elections. The fact that the campaigns have been broadly peaceful and cordial among the parties and the general public, in line with the prescripts of the highly respected IEC has led to a clarity of manifestos of the many political parties. The common theme of election manifesto policies among the parties to drive economic growth and job creation seems to resonate well with the markets, to believe that there is adequate seriousness by parties and by government to adopt that help fight corruption and drive an economic growth agenda.

The once off nature of political campaign activities that include high expenditure on printing and advertising may lull one to a false sense of comfort about business confidence. The abrupt absence of load shedding is by no means an indication that all is well at Eskom for example, yet the benefit of this absence, increased campaign spend and other favourable events benefit businesses and increase business confidence. Although once off, the benefit cannot be taken for granted, it is most welcome by business.

The upcoming elections create an unpredictable economic environment for the next month or two. The likely outcome of the elections is not difficult to speculate on to the extent that policy certainty is not in doubt. Effective implementation of these policies is more in doubt as it depends on the extent of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s victory within the ANC than the ANC’s own victory.

The President’s victory would protect and shield his leadership from vicious factional battles within his party, that have plagued his presidency since his appointment. Business confidence is likely to be emboldened by this outcome. The capital and financial markets remained relatively stable during April. The rand strengthened but remained unstable. The outcome of elections should bring more clarity to business and enhance better planning and decision making. Business and investor confidence will become pivotal to the economy and the business climate in the second half of 2019.

For a full background to this month’s SACCI BCI see the full BCI report on www.sacci.org.za.

For more information, contact:
Alan Mukoki SACCI CEO 082 551 1159
Richard Downing SACCI Economist 082 822 5566