Monday, October 26, 2009

Getting something for nothing

I am spotting a trend in my country. Perhaps it is not just here, but this is where I notice it. It is the trend of expecting something for nothing. Let me explain. In this past week our national soccer coach was fired because the team has raked in a series of poor results. He was the 16th coach in 17 years. We expect the team to win, yet our players are notorious for not arriving at practices, there is constant infighting among those in top structures etc etc. So, the coach gets fired...again. Suppose people start thinking that there isn't a coach problem, but that there is an administration problem, an accountability problem.

Our mayor, Gwen Ramakgopa will probably be fired in the next day or two. She has been accused of mismanaging funds and is well known for her spending sprees. Yet, a quarter of Pretoria's residence do not have access to basic services such as water, electricity and sanitation services. I wonder where those in power thought these things would come from. Heaven?

For 15 years, Eskom, the South African electricity provider had not maintained or upgraded its facilities. Now there is a crisis as demand is outgunning supply. The immediate answer: a 43% hike in tariffs, with the same increase projected for at least the next three years. Where was the electricity going to come from? Thunderbolts? Yet, Eskom's executives have given themselves healthy bonuses over this period. Expecting something for nothing.

Next, there will be the water-crisis. It is not a crisis yet, because the rich have not been affected. But it is coming and sooner than we think.

Every time someone raises these issues, the standard response from those in political power is "Crisis, what crisis?". This cliche has become the running joke among South Africans. But then again, the roof doesn't leak if it doesn't rain.

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