Neighbourly Notes – 16 January 2020

TABLERS ALL: The Port Alfred Round Table, 177, held its AGM last Thursday and inducted the 2019 vice-chair, Jacques Scheepers as the chair for 2020. From left, are Hannes Wessels, JP de Klerk, Brendan Marais as vice-chair, Scheepers, Nico von Wielligh, outgoing chair Julius Horak and Frikkie Coetzee. Picture: ROB KNOWLES

SCHOOLS opened their doors to a new academic year on Wednesday and the pupils looked forward to learning new things. Some began their last years of academic life, or looked forward to tertiary education while, at the other end of the spectrum, were nervous but excited at being at school for the first time. Travelling around the schools in the area we only witnessed one child who was truly upset at being “abandoned” by his parents. Most calmly accepted the inevitable separation and seemed to be having a good time with friends. Water is one of the greatest challenges in 2019, and most schools were concerned they might not have enough water for pupils unless plans were made. At Dambuza Primary School, the local councillor, Thembani Mazana, promised delivery of a 5,000l water tank to the school on Wednesday. But it really does take a village to raise a child. The schools in the area require a committment from the entire community to support it in all its activities. Sport is a great uniting force, but the schools also participate in quizzes, concerts, debates and various other activities throughout the year, and these also need to be supported. Discipline should begin at home, not at school, so parents need to teach their children the values of a responsible society. That means you may protest but must not burn things to make a point. We wish all the pupils who started their first, or next or final academic year the best of luck. The future is, quite literally, in your hands. Use what you learn to improve your communities and grow up to be responsible citizens of SA and the world.

WATER is one of two issues that require urgent attention at this time. Water scarcity has been a known problem for generations in SA. Talk of the Town published a front-page article on the water crises 10 years ago, when water usage restrictions were first implemented. Mind you, at that time peace officers were assigned to ensure compliance with the rules. Now, 10 years later, we are still close to Day Zero, when there will be no water for anyone. Jon Houzet reported on the water crises meeting, held on Tuesday evening. Read his story in this week’s Talk of the Town. The other critical problem is electricity. This is obviously not just a schools issue but, without electricity, schools will be seriously disadvantaged. Technology is an indispensable part of the school academic programme as most pupils will need to know how to use social media, search engines, applications and their development, visual aids and various other disciplines, where electricity is an essential component. We need the political will and drive to ensure Eskom and others keep the lights on in 2020.

WHILE on the subject of electricity, I was dumbfounded that President Cyril Ramaphosa spent time dealing with other issues outside the country while Eskom reintroduced Stage 2 and Stage 1 load-shedding, one week before the promised earliest such action would be taken. SA loses R1bn (that is 1,000 million rand) per stage per day that load-shedding is implemented. I was reminded of the story of Emperor Nero fiddling while Rome burnt. Although we need to explore sustainable methods of producing electricity, we must be cognisant we are not going to be able to swap coal for wind or solar in the near future. Our first priority is to get our electrical supply under control before we can readily swap fossilised carbon for wind, wave or solar.

ANOTHER year has passed and another birthday has arrived for those celebrating a special day in the week ahead. Congratulations and all good wishes on this occasion to Warren Vermaak, Sandra Knight, Lindy Pieterse, twins Connan Hill and Shannon Hawkes, Tanya Elliott, Shaun Uys, Buck Buchholz, Hugo Slater, Dee Joiner, Wendy Kretschmann, Lisinda Hanstein, Clinton Millard, Samantha Jones-Phillipson, CandiceLarken, Cecil Jones-Phillipson, Peter Keeton, Stanley Richter, Pat Clough, Pieter Ehlers, Twiggs Britz, Warwick Strachan, Sai Pieterse, David Krige, Steven van Rooyen, Derek Blair, Jaco van Rensburg, Bronwyn van Zyl, Chris Butt, Val Simpson, Willem Mouton and James Pote.

CONGRATULATIONS, well done and wishing all businesses having an anniversary all the best for further success in the future. Good wishes especially to The Health and Wellness Centre, JD Electrical, El Shaddai School, St Andrew’s College and Seafield Liquor Store.

OUR sincere condolences to the family and friends of Erreleen Boarolo, who passed away in East London on January 9 2020.

THE rand is currently floating in the wind and at the mercy of overseas markets. The plans of finance minister Tito Mboweni don’t seem to have much of an impact on the economy, and that is both good and bad news. Good in that people are still investing in SA (even though we are regarded below investment status by all three ratings agencies). But the outlook appears dim and disappointing. It is bad in as much as we are at the whim of international players and it is their actions that are manipulating the currency. Although the Brent Crude price exceeded $68 per barrel over the last few weeks, it has dropped to closer to $65 per barrel at the time of writing. With 2019’s figures in brackets to compare against, the Rand was trading at R14.39 (R13.72) to the dollar, R18.73 (R17.65) to the pound and R16.04 (R15.63) to the Euro. Gold is trading at $1,553.03 ($1,289.11) per fine ounce, and platinum at $977.46 ($803.30) per ounce. Brent Crude is trading at $64.39 ($60.67) per barrel.

WEDDING anniversary congratulations and good wishes for many more happy years ahead to Gavin and Delene Deenik, Greg and Jann Kieck, Rob and Ann McKay, Gerrie and Pat Bosch and Kevin and Sheilagh Scott.

THOUGHT for the week: “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

BEST regards as always,
The Team

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