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14 December 2001
Was I wrong!

The past year.

Boy, can you be sooo positive that it makes you look like a total fool? It's easy, believe me. Just on the exchange rate alone it seems that I did not know what I was saying at the beginning of the year. We are human after all, and if we can't learn from past mistakes, the experience wasn't worth it right!

Been quite a year for us in South Africa. More and more positive things coming to the fore with more transparency from government on corruption. Okay, this have to be exposed by our press before anything is done about it, but it's happening. With that there is always a down side. With HIV/AIDS becoming enemy number one in Africa, more babies and children being raped is probably one of the worst problems surfacing over the past couple of months. Crime is still rife though I must say that my biggest fear these days is being hi-jacked and killed. The notorious torturing of people by burglars have subsided, so has money-in-transit hijackings and bank robberies. Rape has taken off though. So has muggings. More people are without jobs than ever before. The jobless are making plans now. The informal trading sector has taken off with black and white taking to the streets to make a living. Again government is trying to control this business but not with much success.

With the Rand at an ever increasing low by the day, we can't do much with our money. The national lottery has matured with only the die-hards still making regular bets. Gambling joints are still popular, but with less disposable income, fewer people go gambling. The cellular phone business has become more competitive with a third operator eventually in business which bodes well for the consumer. This year is probably the last chance for most to go out and purchase those luxury items they've always wanted. Again the exchange rate will take care of the rocketing prices of imported items. With Europe our biggest trading partner, more will be exported with less available in the local market.

Companies catering and geared for export are smiling. Contracts are coming in fast and furious for those with the capabilities and infrastructure to export. That is until the unions get their say. With an unstable workforce which is not so cheap nor productive anymore, could put a spanner in the works here.

For now the fuel price has gone down - a sort of festive season bonus from government. But that's what it is. In January the price must go up again, and it will. What is worrying at this stage though is Trevor Manuel's desperate need to meet inflation targets. Any of ideas of job creation and boosting the economy is being ignored. This quest is going to cost us once again. Interest rates will go up. So will the fuel price and with that all other goods. The exchange rate as it is will have a negative impact on consumer spending with more businesses closing in the near future. Salary increases have been kept so low that most people lucky enough to have a job, already can only afford the minimum.

I am very surprised at the amount of money spent over the past couple of days for the festivities planned over December. Where does all the money come from? No-one knows, and those who know won't tell. The rich and famous? Must be.

As for me, we're staying at home. The planned trip to the Cape has been cancelled due to not only money concerns, but also another operation on my knee. Better to put the money to good use like settling debts and prepare for tough times ahead.

Wishing all my readers the best for the future in 2002, and a happy, true-spirited Christmas.

Note: HIV/Aids - The REAL situation is now available.