Neighbourly Notes – 14 February 2019

ROMANCE IN THE AIR: Congratulations and best wishes to Renee Chan and Travis Dell who were married last Friday at Shepstone Gardens in Johannesburg. The couple travelled to Johannesburg from Hong Kong for their wedding where their many friends and family joined them from all over the world to take part in the joyous occasion. Travis is the elder son of John and the late Phyllis Dell, and grandson of Lyn Charter of Port Alfred. Wishing you both health, happiness and abundant love always.

THERE’S no point in attempting to avoid the subject, load-shedding is the topic on ever yone’s lips as we head toward the end of the first week of power cuts. According to Eskom the need for load-shedding will continue until at least April, perhaps as late as July. In parliament the minister of state-owned enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, said that the problems were mainly caused by failures in the Hitachi designs as well as the construction of the coal-fired power stations at Medupi and Kusile. Existing power stations produce around 34 gigawatts of power and the addition of these two new power stations will only increase that figure to around 42 gigawatts. But consumption of electricity is only around 30 gigawatts, so the existing infrastructure is enough to supply the country’s power requirements. While the appalling lack of insight and control of the new power station are being held as main culprits, the real problem lies with incompetent management, an overmanned workforce and engineers who should have spotte and rectified design flaws years ago, not at the end of the project. Can we really trust anything that comes out of a politician’s mouth?

JUST to stay with national news, Cosatu marched in major cities in South Africa yesterday (except Cape Town where the march is planned for next week) and held a nationwide strike to protest… you’ve guessed it… job losses at Eskom. While no right-thinking person could deny that trade unions have a place in society to protect worker’s rights, Cosatu are behaving in a somewhat similar manner to the luddites of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, smashing the machines that would ultimately replace jobs in the workforce. But there is no use acting Canute-like, attempting to hold back the tide. Eskom could probably lose half its workforce and still operate efficiently (and that includes most of the senior management). Job creation in the public sector just means that the taxpayer is left footing the salary bill. Privatisation is the only way forward, so the unions had better learn to adopt a more conciliatory attitude toward private business as these will and should be the main employers, not the public sector. And calls for nationalisation of the banks and other institutions is clearly ridiculous given how incompetently the government has managed all of its parastatals.

ONE last point is the debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation address that happened on Tuesday (although most South Africans didn’t get to see it because the electrical power was off) seemed to be focussed on Eskom. Someone should perhaps point out to EFF leader (I find it difficult to call him the commander in chief) Julius Malema the irony of him referring to the lie, “white monopoly capitalists ” when this is a phrase made up on behalf the Gupta brothers in order to steal from the country.

TONIGHT (Thursday), don’t miss the Port Alfred Country Club cheese and wine Valentine’s Event and, on Sunday it’s another Classics at the Castle with flautist Malane Hofmeyr-Burger and marimba-player Magdalena de Vries. For these and other events in our area, so our Diarise This section, below.

WATER woes continued this week when a mains water pipe burst in the CBD, adjacent to FNB. The leak is now repaired but this leads to the question as to how many more pipes are going to burst with so many fluctuations in the electrical power supply? The recent power outages were blamed for the dearth of water in the town and it is hoped that Ndlambe Municipality has learnt from this and is able to feed dams and reservoirs while the power is on so that we don’t experience concurrent electrical and water shortages in the area.

HAPPY birthday greetings to everyone celebrating a birthday in the coming week. We hope that the year ahead will bring you all good health and happiness, especially to Anelisa Yoli, Cornelle Coetzee, Ryan Heathcote, Sylvia Gwebile, Jenny Louw, Harold Bodill, Val Williams, Matt van Eeden, Chelsea van Eeden, Ashley Bamber, Joy Smith, Carl van Heerden, Herma Purdon, Sally Thompson, Marizka Burgess, Tiffany Gudzman, Gillian Rautenbach, Jill Dickie, Bess Radue, Don Wood, Arthur Haig, Lindsay Drew, Marilyn Michau, Mandy Pretorius, Debbie Duncan, Edmund Hall, Grant Keeton, Brendan Welsh, Karel de Jaeger, Peter Lear, Joyce Webb, Hendrick Koekemoer and Russell Kearney.

BUSINESS anniversary congratulations, plus further success and good wishes to Fresh Stop at Andy’s Service Centre, DP Engineering and Pic-Kwick’s Restaurant in Bathurst.

AMAZINGLY, it appears that the current electricity supply problems have not yet adversely affected the markets, and the rand is still holding its own against the major world currencies. However, this situation is unsustainable. With over 27% unemployment (at least, according to government statistics), inflation is projected to reach 5.27% by the end of 2019, with even higher projections in subsequent years. And, if load-shedding continues, investors will pull out of the country leaving us with no option but to attempt to sell our state assets. But then, who will want to buy into a country that cannot even maintain a steady power supply? With last year’s figures in brackets to compare against, and at the time of going to press, the Rand was trading at R13.75 to the US Dollar (R11.85), R17.74 to the British Pound (R16.43) and R15.57 to the Euro (R14.64). Gold was trading at $1,312.39 per fine ounce ($1,331.33), Platinum at $792.85 per ounce ($974.75) with Brent Crude Oil at $63.01 ($62.49) per barrel.

SPECIAL thoughts and prayers are with all those folk who are not well, having or have already had tests, operations and treatments. ‘Sterkte’ to Roy Potter, Andrew de Vries, Jenny Groenewald, Rowena Collin, Malcolm Cock and Brenda Shelton.

WITH the hint of romance in the air and the celebration that another year of marriage is lovingly added, it’s congratulations to all couples on their anniversaries. Ken and Margaret Schroder, Mark and Jacquie Kieck, Rodney and Myrna Keet, Jona and Mel Arnott, Simon and Clare du Plessis, Devon and Kelly Brittle, John and Lodene Pohl, James and Lindy Robinson, Malcolm and Kathy Robinson, John and Karen Fletcher.

TO all romantics – have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. To those who are not (romantics) – enjoy all the special offers provided by the many businesses, who are trying to make the world a more loving place!

THOUGHT for the week: “The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.”

BEST regards as always,
The Team.

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