Sunday, January 27, 2008

lest you think I have been exaggerating.....

The Power shortage has been declared a National Emergency. Here is a news article on the latest mind boggling measures to contain the crisis.

It is very hard to swallow authoritative sounding reassurances about everything being well in hand from the same morons who let it get this bad in the first place! After all they only woke up to the fact that there was a serious problem, and called a meeting to deal with it this week, when the country was already in a crippling position. It makes it difficult to place any faith at all in the emergency measures being put in place to remedy the situation.

Our economy is in very serious danger of a meltdown due to the long term effects of this crisis and the measures which will have to be taken to sort it out (like putting a moratorium on all future capital growth plans and initiatives, closing down our major mines etc!!!), and we are being told that all South Africans are going to have to dig deep in our pockets to help pay for all this, yet these are the same morons who are supplying as much power as the output of a whole power station to Zimbabwe FOR FREE!

I don't need to tell you how bad it really is, if you think of the long term ramifications of closing the mines down to save power in the short term, not to mention the impact on thousands upon thousands of poor mine workers whose livelihoood is on the line. In the end it is people like them who will pay the worst price for the criminal ineptitude of the Minister of Minerals and Energy Affairs, and the big wigs at ESCOM (who, BTW, were given multi million rand performance bonuses over the last 3 years!!)

Again the interesting dichotomy that South Africa is a 1st world/3rd world nation comes into play. Let's face it, millions of our citizens have never had the benefit of electricity in their homes, and the huge irony is that, when the new democracy was born, addressing that injustice was high on the priority list of changes to be made.

So to them all this ranting about power blackouts must seem like so much spoilt elitist whining. But the reality is that our economy and cities are run on a 1st world basis, and are entirely dependant on a stable electricity supply. It is not the inconvenience of darkness that people are complaining about, it is the fact that our hard won economic growth since democracy is being wiped out in a flash.

I suspect that, when Nelson Mandela and others made impassioned speeches about bringing about racial and economic equality, what they had in mind was bringing the living conditions of the poor up to the 1st world standards of the rest of the country, not reducing the entire country to the 3rd world standards which look more and more likely if this kind of ineptitude is allowed to continue unchecked!

I just want to clarify one thing. Anyone who is new to this blog and only reads this post in isolation might get the idea that I am one of the rabid old racist diehards who are, sadly still among us, and that nothing the new government can do is right. This is really not the case, and overall I am very happy to be a proud South African as we build the new democracy and redress old inequalities. Much has been done that is good, and there will always be sacrifices made in bringing about social change.

So, for example, those who are constantly harping about poor healthcare must bear in mind that in the past, 10% of the population got superb care while the rest got practically none. Obviously the 10% will have to accept some falling standards while the remaining 90% now get some care. Yes, stupid mistakes have been made, yes, it could be better, but change is a dynamic process, and there have been big strides along the way.

But having said that, just because I am basically pro the whole new setup, I will not sugar coat the stuff that IS wrong, and there are issues like this ESCOM debacle, and the crime situation, which are being handled very badly.

I think that is why this whole ESCOM debacle is starting to get to me so much (and yes Tom, you were right, more and more I AM finding it upsetting as the real long term effects and implications sink in!) because it is the poorest of the poor who end up suffering for the ineptitude of the few fat cats who are too busy lining their own pockets or following their own agenda for International recognition to care much about what happens to the poor masses who elected them. At the end of the day, the previously advantaged middle class whites, and the fat cat politicians can afford to pay a little more for the stuff which is going to sky-rocket when the full effects of this come into play. It is the poorest of the poor who will be the real victims once again, and who will be unable to meet the rising food and fuel costs.

When all those lives were lost to bring about social change in this country, are they not the ones who it was all about? The need to improve their lot in life was paramount? So when all the steps that have been taken in the right direction are wiped out at the flick of a power grid switch, it is DEEPLY upsetting and I believe those responsible for this should not get off with a mere "sorry, we made a mistake, now let's move on." They need to pay back the huge bonuses and pull in their belts and pay for the suffering they are causing...... but if recent coverups are anything to go by, I don't hold out much hope for seeing justice done in this case.


Old Wom Tigley said...

My heart goes out to you over this... we have a friend Tina who was bought up over there and is very clued up with the affairs of your country... she will be most upset. Like you she loves the place, even now after moving back to the UK a few years ago, she talks most fondly of it.
I feel for you and your country at this time...

Jenty said...

I also don't hold much hope out that justice will be served in this case. They'll get away with it, and probably be voted into power again. To do it again!
The whole issue is mind boggling. I really hope this isn't going to force the mines to close down completely, they're running on such small margins as it is.

Jenty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
imac said...

They should take a few of the top links out -instead of removing them from the bottom.