As we edge towards the end of 2021, I am reminded of a Mark Zuckerberg quote: “The biggest risk is not taking any risk in a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking any risks.”
I am exceptionally proud of the fact that, despite the continued disruptions to business this year, our membership has increased by 3.4%, reinforcing the value members and businesses find in the RMI. The RMI is in its strongest financial position since inception, despite the trying times we have all experienced. In addition, our associations have also recorded good financial results with the majority enjoying healthy surpluses against deficit budgets.
While the economy and the automotive industry are slowly returning to a ‘new normal’ of doing business, we are under no illusion that the pandemic will continue to have a severe impact on all industries for some time to come. We are, at the same time, geared for any opportunities that may arise since everyone needs to adapt to the changed environment. We have however all seen how quickly things change. Just in the last 10 days a new variant, Omicron, has been identified resulting in many countries closing their borders to Africa and the Rand weakening against the USD. As the President reiterated in his address on 28 November, “until everyone is vaccinated, everyone will be at risk.” On the point of mandatory vaccination, he said “while they recognise it is complex and difficult, if we do not address this as a matter of urgency we will continue to be vulnerable to new variants and will continue to suffer new waves of infection.” The impact of this third wave is clearly worrying for the SA economy. Only time will tell how things play out, both in terms of understanding the implications and seriousness of this variant, as well as reaching some kind of “standardisation” in the global response. We can all play our part by ensuring both ourselves and our families and our staff are vaccinated and I appeal again to all members to reiterate the importance of vaccinating to all staff.
Moving into 2022
Our virtual way of working, supported by a fully-operative digital platform, will continue in 2022. These online platforms are no longer foreign concepts and have created new efficiencies for our organisation. The RMI plans to retain this momentum and the implementation of virtual platforms will remain a part of its future communication strategy. Our guidance and information sharing with our membership base about COVID-19 related topics has been very well received and this will be maintained for as long as the pandemic is part of our reality. The RMI and its associations will continue to assist the industry with workplace readiness and risk assessment plans.
To successfully meet the evolving needs from industry, skills development and training remain a priority in our industry. I would like to applaud the RMI Training Committee and Management for their efforts and success thus far. The Regulatory Compliance Department had another busy year due to the vast number of government compliance requirements. We have shared these with members to help them better manage the regulatory risks and to ensure full compliance with all relevant legislation and professional standards and practices.
Transformation remains a strategic focus area and during the year a lot of work was undertaken to assist informal businesses towards the transition of Basic or Accredited RMI membership. This allows more opportunities to recruit new qualifying businesses into the RMI transformation programme. The year also saw the start of the RMI/SEDA Coaching and Mentoring Programme and the establishment of a closer working relationship with the Women Economic Assembly (WECONA), among other transformation-related initiatives.
The RMI remains committed to serving the best interests of our members, our industry and our country – and we are ever grateful for the support of an increased membership, which helps the organisation to remain relevant and continue to be the collective voice for the retail motor industry.
The motoring public has also never been in a better position to do their automotive buying, repairs and maintenance with RMI members, who are well equipped and ready to take care of consumer needs and expectations.
I would like to express my gratitude and recognition to the RMI Board, our committee structures, associations and our valuable staff members for their dedicated efforts in working towards a better industry for all. As this is our last magazine for 2021 and our country is once again focusing on 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children (25 November to 10 December), we are reminded to unite to raise awareness about gender-based violence, challenge discriminatory attitudes and call for improved laws and services to end violence against women and children for good.
In closing, I would like to wish all our members, the RMI Board and other committee structures, management and staff a happy festive season. Please travel safely and enjoy some well-deserved downtime.