Gerald Potash,

Hello again,

Eskom is a disaster. For the first time ever more than half of its generating capacity was out of service this week. Load shedding has been ramped up and the harm and inconvenience is immeasurable. We are now closer to Stage 8 than we have ever been and that will mean being without electricity for 14 hours a day. Now the real question is: how far are we from total grid collapse?

A little bit of light thrown on this subject was that this week the NPA won preservation orders against some who had taken Eskom for a ride at the Kusile power station to the tune of over R400 million. The court ordered some really fancy assets to be attached, like fancy vehicles (a Lotus sports car) and holiday homes and these goods will now be sold to recover some of those millions syphoned off to pay for water supplied illegally and grossly overpriced. 

Kusile, the enormous coal power power station was started in 2007 and was projected to be fully completed by 2012 at a cost of R60 billion.  It is still not complete and has already cost more than R122 billion. Zapiro explains succinctly in this cartoon how we got into this mess; from Daily Maverick:

Organised crime is now exposed as the existential threat to SA where criminal networks not only work together but have become embedded in our society.

Johanna van Eeden is an editor for some of the Afrikaans newspapers. In her op-Ed on Monday in Die Burger she asks whether we have not already transformed from a failed State into a mafia State. Corruption is so endemic in the State apparatus where even the police are part of criminal syndicates and they have become an integral part of the criminality, she writes. Not all police are criminals but enough of them, also in high office, are part of the syndicates—which of course has a major effect on the normal and expected efficiency of the police force. 

Van Eeden further points out that load shedding is the open sluice for criminals to target substations and strip them of transformers and copper wire.

Oh, dear!

Her op-Ed gets worse. The “construction mafia”, who are so conspicuous in the Cape where new developments are going up for the homeless, are almost definitely guilty of the murder on site this week of a City council worker. Last week two councillors were shot in the legs, as warnings. They demand 30%of the deal to allow the development to proceed.

Figures just released show that SA has become the murder capital of the world, where more people have been murdered this year than people have died in the Ukraine war in the same period.

Van Eeden concludes that we have become a mixture of corruption and organised crime. We don’t need a State of Disaster for electricity but a State of Disaster for crime, she writes.

Some small good news is that since the positioning of our army to guard certain power stations 48 people have been arrested for various criminal activities

The other major headline in our press has been the annual budget delivered by our Finance Minister yesterday. SA is broke but there does seem to be more control on spending with Godongwana at the helm. and tax recovery this year surprised by being more that what was budgeted. Whatever the Finance Minister said you must know that there is an elephant in the room and that elephant is Eskom with its massive debt and he addressed that, but is it too late? There are conditions for the governments’ assistance for taking over a large part of Eskom’s debt. Generally SAis “happy” with the budget.

Andre de Ruyter, the leaving CEO of Eskom was interviewed last night on TV and he told his interviewer that he reported to “a Minister” that R1 billion a month is being misappropriated. The Minister’s retort “They also have to eat.”                                                                 Could that Minister be Pravin Gordhan who slammed De Ruyter for meddling in politics instead of keep the lights on?

The ANC is in a class of its own… But they do look after their cadres! This was ubuntoons & nathi’s cartoon a day before the budget from Maverick Citizen, which in the end didn’t turn out too badly when you understand what problems Godongwana had with a virtually broke SA:

Then most of us are waiting with bated breath to hear whether we are going to be “grey-listed” by FATF (Financial Action Task Force) on Friday. Already South Africa’s rand experienced the worst start to the year in over a decade, making it one of the poorest-performing currencies in the world. Grey-listing could properly sink us.

UCT is still making lots of news. 

Mamokgethi Phakeng, the Vice Chancellor has been suspended (or not?) and she has not taken that lightly. Accusations, threats and general bad behaviour is what we have come to expect from her and this is what we got when news of her pending suspension was leaked.

On Tuesday finality was reached when she was granted a settlement to leave in Feb next year. She will receive over R12 million.

Then also at UCT like at other universities, the SRC said thousands of students were unable to register due to historic non payment of fees and that was one of the reasons why they closed down the campus last week. That illegal campus shut-down was then taken to court by the Council.

The result of that court action is that the SRC has been served with a severe restraining order from the High Court. They must immediately desist from intimidating students and a raft of other strict conditions was laid own in a judgement delivered late last week. 

Now some very good news.  Cape Town is flourishing. There is a busy central district getting bigger by the day with tons of development everywhere. The bright, young mayor of our city is talking of accommodating 10 million within the next generation and he and his council are working hard to develop more and more infrastructure to accommodate the massive growth. 

Also the mayor is determined to get rid of the vagrants who use the city centre illegally for sleeping and…….and he has obtained a court order to have them moved to places that the city has determined. That’s good news and a good start on a serious problem .

I have had two fascinating coffee catch ups this week. Michael & Ilana were staying in Stellenbosch for a couple of days and they again invited us –the world champion was with me– for lunch on Sunday. A couple of weeks ago we met with them at Glen in Constantia and I had toured with them in my touring days.  At my suggestion we shared a true Stellenbosch experience and in Church Street we had lunch at Java Cafe. There we met up with their cousins, Geoff and Denese, from Toronto, whom I also knew from our touring and previous visits (Yes they are all expats).

The place was buzzing with students and tourists and the background noise added to the atmosphere of our time together;  just chatting away and getting to know more about very bright interesting people and their families. 

Then on Monday I met with Hannes who owns the blog ‘Africa Unauthorised’ where this weekly newsletter also regularly appears. Hannes has recruited a small team of writers (one of whom is Hannes himself) and often his own articles appear in the blog.    We have met a couple of times before and this time we spoke “Africa”. He has just returned from a month touring with his siblings in Mozambique, where as children they spent wonderful holidays. It is sad to hear how that once beautiful country has been decimated by corruption and poor service delivery. Hannes told me that deforestation has laid waste large parts of the country and the place is now sad and scary. Hannes has authored several books all with an African theme. He is a most interesting fellow. Look up his books on the internet and read what interests you. He is Hannes Wessels and he is English speaking.

This weekend will be a buzz or worse– a loud noise in Green Point. We are staging a Grand Prix for electric racing cars, an E-race. 

Maybe electric cars don’t cause much sound but the huge crowd expected will. There has been strong interest in this event that largely goes round the iconic Cape Town Stadium with a 3kl track specially laid out on the roads in that area.

The SA Rugby Board has not yet responded to Israel’s demand for an explanation about the withdrawal, by the SA Rugby Union of the invitation to the Israeli team scheduled to play here in an international club competition after BDS and Africa4Palestine put pressure on the board.

World Rugby prohibits discrimination of any kind, whether race, sex, politics, religion or creed. 

The CFO of the Dept. of Tourism has quit his job after being implicated in the intended R1 billion deal with Tottenham Hotspur for an SA logo to be on their match shirts. That was after after the new Board Chairman suspended him last Tuesday. Football fans will agree that Brandan got it quite right with this cartoon in the Sunday Times:           

Last weekend saw the coach on the couch on Saturday and then again on Sunday evening. The rugby on Saturday was one of the most exciting  games we have ever watched. The Stormers, outplayed for large parts of the game sneaked a narrow win over The Bulls and the coach went home with a smile. Then on Sunday night Spurs won! What a sporting weekend and days later the coach is still smiling!

As always,


Email:     Phone: +27 82 557 5775

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