Power outage

By PETER-DIRK UYS  |  April 23, 2008

Is there anything here that gives hope? Facing the next eight years without confidence in our electricity grid? Forget government; it is impossible to keep small businesses going when even the mines give up. We marveled at the collapse of Zimbabwe. That took years. Our demise could take weeks.

Suddenly, it is possible that World Cup soccer bosses FIFA, the other evil empire, which has no sentiment for “the people of South Africa,” will move their 2010 commitment from what is known as “the rainbow nation” to Australia. They’ve already prepared for it.

Without power, our other attractions of rainbow appeal pale into gloom. We’ll sit with all those billion-rand unfinished soccer stadiums that cannot be adapted overnight into power stations. Like the planned concrete piss-pot in the center of eco-green Cape Town, which, though it will be inaccessible to many poor blacks, will at least be perfectly situated for TV shots with that lovely image of Table Mountain in the background.

Meanwhile, that most commercial of the world’s heritage sites, the famed “University of Robben Island” — the grim prison from which Nelson Mandela and his first democratically elected cabinet were graduated — is in trouble. (Even Jacob Zuma, our possible next president, passed through it in solitary confinement from grade five to cum laude.) This jewel in our crown now sits virtually bankrupt with $3.4 million lost due to corruption and incompetence. The Department for Arts and Culture’s aging ferry system has collapsed, leading to thousands of canceled tours (often booked months in advance) and angry foreign tourists. A spokesperson for the department passionately came to the defense of his beleaguered comrades, saying that Robben Island symbolizes what the ruling African National Congress (ANC) stands for.

Comrade? You couldn’t have said it better.

A chance to make things work
Optimism is catchy. It is a balm and a great therapy. But when does optimism become propaganda? By constantly giving our government the benefit of the doubt while logic and common sense keep banging at the panic button, we are supporting them in their carelessness and failures. Since Mbeki declared himself an enemy of his people with his inexplicable denials of the seriousness of HIV and AIDS, I have not been a fan. But I never thought I would see him dismantled by his own party in such a casual and shocking manner as he was at the December Congress of the ANC, where Zuma and his clique were elected and Thabo’s Mbekivellian Politburo — that is, Political Bureau — was kicked out. Now, Mbeki looks like the small, pathetic puppet I use on stage.

After our impending general election, in April 2009, a new chapter will have opened. Once unprotected by the office of leadership, the road to a court in the Hague on charges of genocide for Mbeki and his minister of health, with her bizarre cures for the AIDS virus, will be clear. We are losing 1000 people a day thanks to their denials. Genocide in 2008 is simply: “Ignore them and they will go away.”

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