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SA hit its own ‘Desmond’; level 2 loadshedding and stage 2 lockdown this week


There is power. But you can’t get it. It’s the same with water.

SA hit its own ‘Desmond’; level 2 loadshedding and stage 2 lockdown this week.Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg – At British Universities, if you graduate with a lower second pass (2:2) in your degree, you’re said to have a ‘Desmond’, after our legendary living saint Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Here at home, a ‘Desmond’ is when the level of load shedding meets the stage of lockdown.

This week, South Africa hit its own ‘Desmond’; level 2 loadshedding and stage 2 lockdown. There aren’t terms to describe the other synchronicities, such as level 3 and stage 3, because they don’t exist academically. In fact, anything beyond that, is a fail.

Our ‘Desmond’ this week is starting to feel like a bit of a fail too, especially when it became a trifecta after the mercury dipped below 2 DegC for the first time in Joburg, this year.

The problem is not the loadshedding on its own, or even the amended lockdown or even the winter. We’ve lived through them all before, sometimes in different permutations. The problem is deeper. It’s the fact that they are all happening together, and that increasingly, the City of Joburg is unable to restore power at the required time because something along the line, like a substation, blows up.

There is power. But you can’t get it. It’s the same with water. There’ll be a problem or scheduled maintenance and when that’s resolved, and the water’s switched back on, one of the subsidiary pipes bursts.

We are on the cusp of the third wave of a global pandemic and we are one hospital down, because of an avoidable fire. And now, two feeder hospitals are continually without water and unable to operate.

The true tragedy is that this happened not because there was no money, but because the money was misspent, misallocated, not spent, or just stolen. It’s a failure of leadership, when we need it most: someone with a plan to fix it.

This week, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi raced off at high speed to the latest privileged private school accused of racism. If only he could show the same alacrity and tell us what happened to the R431-million paid last year to companies that had never owned a mop beforehand, to clean empty classrooms at government schools.

The week, Police Minister Bheki Cele was shocked and angry that Zandspruit people didn’t trust the police, and took the law into their own hands, ignoring that last month’s necklacing was metastasised by the cancer of police indifference.

Behind the scenes, away from the clamour of sound bites and empty promises, the Gift of the Givers pulled up outside Rahima Moosa with their trucks and engineers – to drill a borehole so that the hospital can have its own water. It’s a pity, as Dr Zweli Mkhize ducks, dives and denies the mounting dossier of tenderpreneurism against him, that we couldn’t entrust the vaccine rollout to Dr Imtiaz Sooliman.

Maybe that’s what university graduates should call their degrees when they pass – and pass well – against insurmountable odds, as so many do in our country. Forget going for a ‘Desmond’, try for an ‘Imtiaz’ instead.

Companies will be falling over themselves to hire you.

The Saturday Star

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