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The year 2018 started off positively following the

significant December 2017 shift in South Africa’s

political leadership, resulting in the inauguration of

President Cyril Ramaphosa in February 2018. As a

consequence, and on the back of improving consumer

confidence and a strengthening Rand, the South African

Reserve Bank modestly increased its growth forecast

for South Africa from 1.2% to 1.4% for 2018.

However, this optimism dissipated by mid-year, as

local and global macro conditions weakened due to

falling public confidence in most countries. Domestic

unemployment continued to persist as many sectors

battled the tough economic climate. The agricultural

sector plunged in the second quarter and South Africa

entered its first technical recession since 2009.

Subsequently, the growth forecast for 2018 was revised

down to 0.7% due to two successive weak quarters,

and confidence indices lost ground.

The JSE All Share Index recorded its worst year in a

decade with an 11% loss, driven mainly by Naspers which

lost 16% of its market value for the year, the worst yearly

performance by Africa’s largest company by market

capitalisation since 2001. Significant declines in other

large cap industrials also contributed to making 2018 an

overall disappointing year for investment markets.

Nevertheless, I am pleased to report that PPS weathered

the year better than many competitors. Owing to the

principle of mutuality, our members continued profiting

from the unique profit-share benefit that only PPS

offers in South Africa.