It should be abundantly clear that the South African government has failed after just a decade and a half at the helm. Sure our finance ministers have come up with fairly effective fiscal policies but these policies have really just delayed the inevitable. To quote Ivo in his recent post titled “Vindication for the racists“:
The doomsayers weren’t right because blacks can’t run a country. Alec Erwin, the minister of public enterprises (who famously said “sabotage is everywhere” before saying “human instrumentality” would be a better term) is white as the driven snow. The doomsayers were right because a motley collection of communists, unionists, socialists and Keynesian statists can’t run a country.
If you’re looking for evidence, you need look no further than lousy service delivery to under-serviced areas, unacceptably high crime levels (especially in light of a clearly dodgy national police commissioner charged with numerous counts of corruption, fraud, racketeering and defeating the course of justice), law enforcement bodies that display a disregard for the judiciary and the rule of law, rising interest rates that are squeezing the lower and middle income earners really hard and, my personal favourite, rolling power blackouts (aka load shedding).
The electricity crisis, alone, is cause to fire the government and the Eskom executive. How could they not have seen the demand for electricity increase to the point where more capacity would be required. How could existing infrastructure be allowed to fall into disrepair? What a group of incompetent morons! To make matters worse I keep hearing stories about how certain areas designated as ANC strongholds and areas where ANC bigwigs live don’t experience power failures at all. So now the crisis that grips this country is also being manipulated for political purposes? WTF?
So here’s the deal. Government can’t run its own household so we have three options. We can wait for the government to sort itself out and pull a small nuclear power station out of a hat in less than 6 months (yeah, about the same chance of me becoming President in 2009); we can leave the country (this latest crisis makes that a really tempting option for me) or we can do it ourselves. I have been tending towards citizens doing it for themselves for a while now because the structures that are supposed to take care of these basic things are either inept, disempowered or corrupt.
For now I am going with door number 3. When it comes to working around load shedding there are a couple avenues to explore. The first is to take a serious look at municpal gas where this is available. We had gas in our last home and it was far cheaper than electricity and far more reliable. Consider installing a gas infrastructure into your home and run your stove/oven and hot water supply on gas. I am interested in other sorts of gas appliances like lighting and perhaps even some sort of generator. The initial outlay can be expensive if you have to have a new installation done and still have to buy the appliances but consider spending 5 years with daily blackouts (possibly escalating as the national batteries run dry).
Two other options I haven’t seen much talk about locally are solar or geothermal power. Are these systems available in South Africa? If not, can they be imported? What are the costs involved? What is enough people wanted them, would that create a market here and bring prices down? Has anyone investigated this? Maybe it is time to stop waiting for some faceless person to stop passing the buck and citizens should come together and organise this themselves. I came across a local guy who has been developing pretty efficient solar panels. He told me that a decent sized array could power a neighbourhood. Now that sounds like an option to me. Switch off the Eskom plug, bring power back to the people (now, if the DA was smart it should look into facilitating this in rural and urban areas).
There is a frenzy in the diesel/petrol generator market but this option is expensive. The generators themselves are pricey and the fuel is expensive and will only become more expensive as the oil price continues to rise.
So sadly the South African government has failed. There is no light at the end of the tunnel for the government because the same bunch of nitwits will remain in power (excuse the pun) for the foreseeable future. That doesn’t mean South Africans can start doing it for themselves and take care of what the government clearly can’t or won’t do.
Update: Since no-one really pays attention to what I write here, take a look at Justin’s post …