The passage of time is beautiful, frightening, majestic and unforgiving. But it will happen. There has been an upsurge of late in a cynical acceptance of load shedding. When this terrible admission that we are a failure as a country first happened in 2008 the anger was palpable. Slowly but surely this has changed to the point where people are now arguing that they simply have to accept it, that they would rather focus their energies on something they can control.
And no one can blame people for this attitude. Screaming and shouting and abusing Eskom and government is like hitting your head against a wall. It is bad for the nation’s blood pressure. Instead, on weekday evenings people sit in two or three hour traffic as load shedding takes out the traffic lights on main and side arteries, daydreaming about buying batteries and generators or whatever else they see as the solution. Forget about the poorest people… yes they always bear the brunt.
We can, as a nation, give up. We can throw our hands in the air and shrug our shoulders and accept this reality because we have no choice. And next year? Will it be water shedding? The Outsurance pointsmen have almost fulltime jobs because the private sector got sick of the fact that maintaining traffic lights was too much for this government. When the lights go out in the suburbs you can hear generators starting and braais burning.
That’s the suburbs. What about the townships that have lived year to year on promises that have not come to fruition? The protests that happen daily in this country are not the result of bored troublemakers. They are the result of communities who are sick and tired of being sent from pillar to post with promises and non-delivery.
Time is unforgiving. What happens when we all wake up in 20 years’ time? What will we see? If one takes into account the little things we have simply come to accept, the sum total becomes mortifying. Over time, after taking little losses on the chin and rewarding something worse than mediocrity with votes, we may well wake up to realise a once World Class African City is nothing more than a dusty shell, where Darwin’s survival of the fittest is replaced by SA’s survival of the most corrupt. Of course this is alarmist and the worst-case scenario. But the very fact it is a possibility is enough to keep any patriot awake at night.
Accountability is the solution. A person who decides every day to allow themselves takeaways and chocolates – because it is a small little cheat at the time – will wake up in ten years with hypertension, possibly diabetes and other obese lifestyle diseases. Similarly, a person who takes control, and holds herself accountable in the little daily decisions will wake up in a year’s time within her BMI, with a normal blood pressure and a healthy body primed for life.
By all means, South Africans must focus energy where it matters and not suffer from road rage every time the lights go out – and they will go out. But accepting a reality does not been accepting incompetence that skirts accountability. Consumers pay for services, and they are well within their rights to demand, yes demand, accountability and solutions. And until our government accepts that they work for us, and not the other way around, we can forget about undoing the mess we find ourselves in.