The great thing about living in South Africa is that there is never a dull moment. And that makes us resilient.
Things are either fantastic – or they are terrible. It’s an emotional roller-coaster ride. When the ride gets too wild, I get off by tuning out from the daily noise.
It’s when we tune out and step back that we see the bigger picture. We restore perspective on the temporary travails of pilots moaning about the CAA’s computers having been hacked and service having deteriorated even further.
By stepping off, we can look at the positives – at the green shoots. A powerful positive is the resounding success of the Aero Expo at Wonderboom. Driven from the start by the indefatigable Christian Maiorana of Villa San Giovanni restaurant and hotel at Wonderboom Airport, the Expo was organised with the best Teutonic disciplines of the Germans who arrange the massive Aero Expo Friedrichshafen, the largest in Europe.
Christian Maiorana single handedly carried the burden of doing the jobs no one else wanted, most notably, engaging with the dysfunctional Wonderboom Airport management to have fuel available for the fly-in planes and even hiring plumbers to get the toilets fixed at his own expense.
Unlike the appalling money-making racket that is the AAD Expo, the Aero Expo at Wonderboom welcomed general aviation with open arms. There were no landing fees, no parking fees for planes - or cars – and even the entrance tickets were free. It set a great standard for future shows.
Presenting one of his well-researched and factually supported industry updates at the Aero Expo, the Commercial Aviation Association’s Dr Roelof Botha gave sound cause for further hope. Despite perceptions, the number of GA aircraft being exported has slowed. Macroeconomic indicators are good: there has been a huge upsurge in Foreign Direct Investment, and unbelievably, year on year comparisons show double digit growth in tourist arrivals from overseas, the value of mineral and motor vehicle sales and even the value of buildings completed.
And quietly, behind the scenes there are new initiatives to improve the business environment, such as a panel of experts having been convened to remove obstacles to business.
The conclusion must be that there is still an enormous momentum in the economy and there are lots of good people who want it to work. Sure, it’s taking far longer than we had hoped for the light of good governance to shine out from the miasma of the Zuma years’ destruction. But gradually the darkness is being pushed back. If we take a step away from the noise of the whiners, then problems like CAA inefficiency and the general feeling of doom will appear smaller.
I suspect that just when many people are giving up and packing for Perth, that’s the inflection point when things start turning around, and the mood of optimism and perception of overcoming all odds, for which we South Africans are famous, will return.