Neighbourly Notes – 18 February 2021

FOOD, WINE AND ROMANCE: Patricia and Ivaan Kannemeyer enjoy themselves at the Valentine’s dinner at the Royal St Andrews Hotel last Saturday night. Picture: BRYAN SMITH

IT has now been 329 days since the national lockdown was imposed and things are slowly returning to normal; well, sort of. While beaches and other public amenities are open once more, the 11pm to 5am curfew is still in place and pub/ tavern opening times are still restricted. Yet, by and large, things are getting better, albeit not fast enough to suit the most vulnerable of our community. Unemployment is officially just over 30%, but unofficially closer to 50%. Grant payments have been hampered by an inefficient system and it is alleged that considerable fraud has been perpetrated by companies and officials alike on TERS funding. Getting people back to work is therefore a major focus but, with several sectors of the economy under threat (tourism and hospitality being two of the worst hit), full employment may be an unachievable goal. After all, it hasn’t happened over the last 27 years when there was no threat of a pandemic.

THE water crisis is hitting the area hard, with some without water for weeks and even months. Despite the rain, the entire water scheme in Ndlambe is failing, badly. For many years, the area’s water supply has been an issue as the population has grown but little to no changes have been implemented regarding water demand. When Absa/DevCo and Bigen Africa built Thornhill there was a plan to extract water from the Gariep Dam, via Makhanda and to the Sarel Hayward Dam, supplementing our dwindling water supply. This was abandoned when a licence could not be obtained. Later, Amatola Water came into the picture, appointed by the Eastern Cape provincial government. A litany of wastage of money and water followed, with a R200m reverse osmosis plant left almost complete but unused, just north of Nemato. In January 2020, there was an open public meeting where the concerns of residents were expressed and Ndlambe mayor, Khululwa Ncamiso, echoed their concerns and stated that she no longer wanted Amatola Water involved in the water scheme. However, an irregular and unlawful tender appointment by the municipality caused delays in Port Alfred getting a new seawater RO plant. This has been delayed again until April by the lack of a permit. Residents want to know when they will have water in their taps but, to date, there is no positive solution and so we continue to crouch over buckets to wash ourselves.

PUBLIC schools reopened on Monday, but many pupils are on a day-on/day-off rotation. Private schools have been open for longer, giving these pupils an advantage in any upcoming examinations. In fact, our educational system has been badly hit by the Covid-19 lockdowns and may take years to recover. This is therefore an ideal time to focus on reforms to education and a chance to rebuild the system from the bottom up.

ESKOM’S CEO, Andre de Ruyter, has stated that renewable energy is a major focus of the company, in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s statement in the recent State of the Nation Address. Large, cumbersome and dirty coalfired power stations such as those at Medupi and Kusile are relics of the past. With the design faults at both stations, SA is facing perhaps five years of loadshedding, according to government sources. This is an untenable situation for the country as we need to attract overseas businesses if we ever hope to get the economy on a firm footing. But who will invest in a country with an irregular and unpredictable power supply? The tens of billions of rand pumped into attempting to rescue the failed coalfired power stations would be put to better use in implementing solar, wind and tidal renewable energy plants, and decentralising and democratising power eneration in the country.

FORMER president Jacob Zuma has again defied a summons to appear before the Inquiry into State Capture in defiance of a constitutional court ruling that he must. Chair of the inquiry, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, has requested that imprisonment be imposed should Zuma be found guilty of ignoring the summons. If Zuma is allowed to flagrantly disrespect the constitution of the republic, then that particular document is worthless and should be torn up. The ANC National Executive Committee (supposedly the highest authority within the party) made a ruling that those charged with crimes should “step aside”, but this is evidently not working. The ANC is falling apart, with factionalism evident at every turn. How can the ANC govern the country when it can’t even abide by its own rulings?

CONGRATULATIONS to everyone celebrating a special day in the week ahead, and with every best wish for many more to Don Wood, Arthur Haig, Lindsay Ross, Marilyn Michau, Mandy Pretorius, Debbie Duncan, Edmund Hall, Joyce Webb, Mark Charter, Brendan Welsh, Tracy Willemse, Sue Bradfield, Sonia Nginase, Shirley Pheasant, Cole Gailey, Caitlin Bessinger, Chloe Rademan, Lisa- Jayne Bezuidenhout, Phillip Swanepoel, Ankia Hunke, Kelly van der Merwe, Terrence Lansdell, Josephine Goliath, Lorna Bradfield, Desmand Hand, Wesley Mcmahon, Carolyn Clarence, Wendy Clayton, Jonathan Steck, Bes Radue, Beryl Smith, Chenelle Freeman, Danielle Spaumer, Bianca Twynham, Zola Kerr, Caryn Bruyns, Jason Currie, Louise Wiggett, Drewnei Potgieter, Adele Broodryk, Wim Slieker, Greg Short, Allan Nonqulo, Patrick Grafton and Belinda Van Zyl.

EVERY success for many more years to follow are the wishes we are conveying to the following businesses and organisations on another anniversary, especially Adviceworx and Rocky Ridge Farm Stall (en-route to Bathurst).

DON’T be too impressed with the markets and that SA appears to be on an upswing with respect to the currency conversion. Any positives in the market are temporary and more a sign that the world is happy to be rolling out vaccines. Yet, as the euphoria diminishes we will find out the true value of the rand. With last year’s figures in brackets to compare against, the rand was trading at R14.47 to the dollar (R14.95), R17.63 to the euro (R16.16) and R20.60 to the pound (R19.45). Gold was trading at $1,817.60 per fine ounce ($1,608.46), Platinum at $1,313 per ounce ($970.58) and Brent Crude at $62.43 per barrel ($58.12).

SPECIAL thoughts and prayers are with all who are not well, having or have already had tests, operations and treatments. Sterkte Roy Potter, Andrew de Vries, Jenny Groenewald, Jan Haig, Lesley Stevenson.

WEDDING anniversary congratulations and continued happiness to all couples celebrating this special occasion. Wishes extend to John and Lodene Pohl, Shawn and Tammy Peet, Simon and Clare du Plessis, Trevor and Stephanie Warner, Rob and Sami Schofield, Clive and Christine Haworth.

THOUGHT for the week: “It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.”

BEST regards as always,
The Team

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