Not the news we were hoping for, and that’s for sure. After surprise growth of +3.1% in the last quarter of 2017, GDP declined quarter on quarter by -2.2% in the first three months of this year, with agriculture, manufacturing, mining, electricity, construction and trade all recording negative growth against the last quarter of 2017. Agriculture, including fishing, was a particular worry: the sector which basically carried us through 2017 shrunk by -24% quarter on quarter. Before you run screaming for the exits, bear in mind that GDP growth for the fourth quarter is generally higher than the other three, and that first quarter growth is thus often, necessarily, negative – when compared to Q1 of 2017 though, the growth is in fact positive. But then there’s this, probably the most worrying line from StatsSA’s generally bleak report: “General government services increased by +1.8%, attributed to an increase in employment numbers.”
Comment: More manufacturing, fewer pencil pushers at the Department of Home Affairs, is our cry.