How the mighty have fallen

15 02 2008

 Well maybe “stumbled” would be a better description but we can certainly see a fall coming for South Africa.The English language has some great words and I think none is more descriptive than “gloat”. Yes, we in Zimbabwe are taking a perverse delight in the South African power supply debacle and are definitely gloating! They don’t even have a credible excuse. Yes, our power supply utility has not done its maintenance either but then they can’t afford to due to the ludicrous (government dictated) prices that they charge. My insurance broker pointed out that running her generator for one hour costs the same as paying for admittedly highly erratic power for one month. It’s surprising that they even have the money to turn the switches on! Mind you, we have now had uninterrupted power for nearly two weeks. Are they being nice to us in the run up to elections or has something actually changed to improve the system. The consensus of opinion is that it cannot last!

The South African Eskom utility has been charging realistic prices but has bungled the maintenance and due to a number of other factors, BEE being one of them, has fouled up in style. Johannesburg now has major power cuts every day (I could not get hold of a company there all Wednesday probably due to phones being without power) and I am told that candles are now in short supply! What this means for the World Cup in 2010 we can only guess. Of course they are scrambling to sort out the mess but it’s going to take years to sort out. By the way, BEE stands for black economic empowerment, a policy of selective employment to boost blacks into higher positions in the economy. While this may have been more successful in the private sector, government has not been so selective (nepotism is as rampant there as here) and the results have shown in the likes of Eskom who have ended up with employees who are not that “switched on”.

The once stable rand (SA currency) has fallen a bit too. Less than 7 to the US dollar last month it was at 7.8 yesterday. I wonder if this has anything to do with the South African image right now. I can’t think Jacob Zuma is helping either.

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