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Making Fun in Adversity

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on November 12, 2021 11:08

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Politics create jokes, but we like to think African political jokes have that little edge. Our latest spate of energy crises kicked up a few nice ones.

There was the old one, back in the time of the National Party that took itself ever so serious. A protester was arrested on the steps of Parliament with a sign saying: "All Politicians Are Crazy." A few burly Security Policemen removed him hard-handedly and he protested: "I have the right to express myself!" And the Sergeant replied: "But not the right to reveal state secrets!" Our recent power woes caused a flood of jokes too. 

Southern Africa has had a shortage of electrical power for years. First Zimbabwe was unable to pay for the hydro-power generated at Lake Kariba (The world's largest man-made lake by volume), prompting the question: What did Zimbabweans use before they used candles? Electricity! 

South Africa has, for fourteen years now, been living with electricity rationing or 'load shedding'. People and entire municipalities refusing to pay for power because 'it is a human right', aging infrastructure because money set aside for new plant was squandered, inefficient staff counting on political connections to avoid being fired...

Much ink has been spent and will be spent on the causes of failure of the national power utility, ESKOM (Electricity Supply Commission). A new and dynamic CEO is turning things around but comes under fire for uprooting corruption. In the run-up to the recent local government elections, a few unplanned shutdowns led to accusations of sabotage.

An inquiry revealed that procurement staff, well-connected to the ruling African National Congress (ANC) had been fiddling with fuel oil purchases for emergency generation, or ignoring maintenance warnings. The following picture from unknown sources swept through social media. 

The ruling party must share blame for years of neglect. Photo from numerous social media sources.  

The CEO, Andre de Ruyter, has had to defend himself vigorously against accusations of racism and more. Then the story circulated: De Ruyter has put his sister in charge of ESKOM: Genna Ruyter. And this picture, again widely distributed on social media: 

Generators have become a necessity for homes and businesses. Photo from multiple social media sources.

President Ramaphosa admitted that the ESKOM problem is giving him sleepless nights, and a social media retort was quick:

Presidential problems. Numerous social media sources. 

But a Facebook post invokes Mr. Bean: 

Come on, baby! Numerous social media sources. 

And the last bit of dark humor: ESKOM is putting the candles back into Christmas. 

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on November 12, 2021 11:08

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Source: The Guardian

As the country suffers from hyperinflation and shortages of fuel and medical supplies, pressure is growing at home and abroad...

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