Gerald Potash

Hello again,

The biggest story of the week is not that Jacob Zuma lost yet another ‘stalingrad-delaying’ battle in court — this time to try to get Cyril Ramaphosa to court today, Thursday, to answer questions linking him to Billy Downer the prosecutor and Karyn Maughan the journalist as accessories after the fact in the matter where JZ says they leaked his medical reports to the press — nor was it that Prince Harry’s biography sold 1 million copies in a day — nor that Russian and Chinese war ships are coming to our waters for naval exercises with our fleet (of one ship) next month — but the story of the week is our electricity load shedding which is affecting every single citizen, except Cabinet and Deputy  Ministers of course. The big shots don’t suffer power outages and they don’t know what it’s like not to have power for up to 4 hours at a time (or even more in some neighbourhoods) and up to 3 times a day.  

In Johannesburg City Power announced that the load shedding had reduced its storage capacity, complaining that some of their storage batteries are old, so their outages are up to 12 hours at a time. Some suburbs in Johannesburg (like Northcliff) were without power for three days. 

Then what happens when the lights go out? Thieves emerge and further vandalize the power stations to rob as much of the the copper wire and cables as they can which exacerbates the problem.  This is not a new phenomenon, it has been going on for years but what have our police done about it? err……………..nothing.

Every electrical expert, every political being, every businessman, every housewife is talking about one thing……the power outages. And the fact that from April our electricity is going to cost us 18.65% more has been met with an enormous outcry in the knowledge that the outages could also be increased. So we will pay more but get less.

Almost every business is affected and the South African poultry farmers are taking massive losses and have had to cull millions of chickens, because load shedding simply makes it impossible to operate profitably. A similar story could be told for almost all or any of our industries.  The poisoning of Andre du Ruyter is still making news. Has a suspect been charged for trying to kill him at work last week? Don’t be silly. Apparently du Ruyter said his resignation at Eskom was due to the fact that (Minister) Gwede Mantashe didn’t want a policeman at Eskom. Ek sê maar niks.                                 This is how Zapiro sees it from Daily Maverick:

Eskom is ridiculously over staffed says energy expert Ted Blom, who believes that the staff of 47,000 should be reduced by at the very least a third. He further believes that patronage and corrupt syndicates are operating in all of the power stations which is killing the proper supply of electricity and pushing up the unit price. He has been saying this for years but do the ANC Ministers listen? Don’t be silly. They know better !

Blom believes that at least R500 billion over the past decade has been syphoned off by corrupt syndicates operating at the plants. In spite of all the reports and in spite of the palpable lack of efficiency nothing has been done to alleviate the problem. And so… the collapse that has been predicted ?

And things could get worse warns Blom. 

Protests have become the way for ordinary citizens to display their unhappiness and in Ekurhuleni (Benoni, Boksburg & Springs to you) roads were blocked this week with burning tyres in protest at the lack of electricity. The DA and Build One SA (Mmusi Maimane’s party) have also urged their followers to join in a street march to Megawatt Park and Luthuli House (ANC headquarters) to  show dissatisfaction with the current (excuse the pun) state of affairs.

Cyril doesn’t take questions from the press but last week after the January 8th speech JJ Tabane, Professor and TV presenter, got hold of him on his TV show and made him look …….well you can decide. I have included the TV interview and you can source it by clicking on this link:

If you think that JJ was hard on Cyril you didn’t read Dawie’s column in Die Burger on Saturday. Dawie, a brilliant political analyst, calls a spade a spade and he sailed into the moribund President. For him to now have regrets and to say he is sorry for the people of SA is unacceptable because he, Cyril Ramaphosa, as long ago as 2014 was appointed head of the war room to “fix” Eskom! This wuss ducks and dives as well as Accused No 1 ‘stalingrads’ and even with the Dept of Energy and the Treasury reporting to him directly he sat on his hands and now he is “surprised and saddened” at the state of affairs we find our country in today.

At least Cyril had the magnanimity (and with much fanfare) to call off his visit to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum meeting this week— so that he could stay home to meet with political leaders and energy boffins to try to alleviate the problem that he and his cronies caused us. This was the Davidtoon in the Daily Friend on Tuesday:

Dawie wasn’t the only columnist to climb into Cyril this past weekend. Tim du Plessis in Rapport takes him to task for declaring that blacks don’t have to be afraid of white people “because whites have no power anymore”.

This has all to do with a racial incident at Maselspoort in the holiday season where black kids were attacked by adult white bullies in a swimming area. The whites have been identified and charged. 

What Cyril actually said about the Maselspoort incident was:  They (whites) have no power now; their apartheid project is over. What he should have said is that apartheid is over and won’t happen again.

As expected there has been huge reaction to this whole incident in especially the Afrikaans press and Cyril is now being likened to the ultimate racist, Julius Malema. 

But this is SA and even with all this going on there has been some good news for us this week. Avrim keeps me updated with news from the NY Times and this week he sent me an editorial pointing to SA and our shift to renewable energy.

“The United States has committed more than $1 billion as part of an $8.5 billion international aid package to catalyze South Africa’s shift to renewable energy, and, after two years of talks about the details, the government in Pretoria is to deliver a plan in February for carrying it out.”

Here’s hoping.                                                                                     Two years of talks but how many years for any plan ?!

Even before the NYT article there have been glimmers of good news coming through the dark. Can you believe that our stock market has hit an all-time high this week? And economic activity improved in December after six consecutive monthly declines. But strangely the Rand slipped slightly against international currencies.

Magnus Heystek, the investment guru, writes: “The last 10 years or so in investment markets have been characterised by an ever increasing outflow of money from the local asset management industry to pastures elsewhere”. This is mostly being done legally by high nett worth individuals wanting to diversify and that stream of funds has now understanably is becoming a river.

Some good news is that five luxury properties have been frozen by the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the NPA.  These properties are all connected to misappropriated Lottery funds. The cadres steal from anyone and everyone even if the money is destined for charities and the poorest of the poor.

You may not believe what else has been in the news for nearly all of this week.  A fully grown adult tigress escaped from a small holding in Johannesburg on Saturday and only yesterday, after roaming for 5 days was caught and euthanised. A Walkerville resident is in hospital, hardly able to move his legs after having been attacked by the tigress, Sheba, while walking to a pal’s house on Saturday evening. 

This week has been a big week for catch-ups. I met with Dennis, that character of note on Thursday and we were graced with Hilary, his better half, being at the table  with us at a favourite restaurant of mine Newport Deli in Mouille Point near the lighthouse. Hilary and I go back a long way, longer than my connection with Dennis and it has to do with competitive bridge.  

Then John and Carol are here from Houston. We had breakfast together yesterday at their hotel in Sea Point. The last time I was at a table with the Hess’s their close friend FW de Klerk was at the table too. How nice to have a catch up after COVID spoilt the party for two successive years. 

And then I met with David (Brighton) and Hilary. The last time we saw each other was under the trees at Lourensford and this catch-up in their apartment was wonderful. To round off a very busy morning I rushed to Riteve to catch up with Peter & Ros with the world champion’s sister, Kareen. What a morning!

On the weekend our Stormers won in Brentford against London Irish but didn’t play well.  The Cape Town team are now just one point away from qualifying for the next round. In the Premiership clash at Tottenham,  Spurs played poorly, particularly in the first half against a structured Arsenal team who are deservedly on top of the log. The difference between the teams was noticeable and nobody can deny that the points went to the better team on the day. But the coach and I were on the couch watching and we weren’t happy. It’s hard being a Spurs fan.

As always,


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One thought on “The Week That Was”
  1. Thanks as always Gerald with your take on things…..but listening to that wuss Ramaphosa in the clip you provided. His explanations on Eskom was pathetic. No wonder this country is in trouble.

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