Inability to Speak Helps You Qualify for The Enabling Of The Gravy Train
South Africa's great thirst has begun
This is my first Hub on this Post, and I am writing it against my better judgement because the issues to be discussed here affects me personally and greatly. Maybe I might have a clouded perspective and judgement when writing this Hub. But, since I recognize that we live in a state of great confusion, I will pick-up those issues that are immediate and briefly talk about them.
There is a problem of water, electricity, job-scarcity, break up of families, in-fighting amongst family members, drugs, great opulence in the face of heart-wrenching poverty, that, in a nutshell, there's a cascading feeling like there is now uncertainty, danger, and general disorder and lawlessness. This can easily be seen on many fronts, and particularly in the Media(SABC), and may other areas of social endeavor. What one finds is downright corruption, intimidation, assassination, murders, and seriously thuggerism that has never ever been seen in these parts of the woods I hang out in.
Ever since the ANC took over, too many things have come to pass, and many have not. One of the by-words used by the ANC, is to say the leadership they groomed in exile, is the one running the country-that, the ANC will rule until Jesus Comes. What that grooming entails, is not what I would like to talk about here. I think a lot has been written about Apartheid, and it is time we really focus on the ANC and its membership. Dealing with the Cabals within this coterie of self-enriched potentates pilfering on the coffers of the poor, knows no bounds. This can be seen in many instances were one to ask, for instance, the denizens of the Soweto enclaves-as will be seen below within this Hub in the case of the People Of Orlando..
Or, one could read up on the Newspapers online from South Africa, or listen to the Radio Stations in their various languages to get a sense of what is happening in South Africa.
Crisis Has Happened To South Africa.
We can talk briefly about the Water Wars, or Struggles or lack-there-of for the people of various Townships throughout South Africa. I would like to Cull From an article taken from the Mail & Guardian, written by Sipho Kings, Sarah Wild, Rapula Moatshe and Phillip De Wet below:
For many South Africans, the water crisis is already here. For others, research and projections show, it is only a matter of time — and perhaps not a great deal of time.
Thanks to load-shedding, and a shortage of water when electricity is restricted, the thirsty future could arrive in major urban centres as soon as this summer.
Eskom's electricity woes have hastened the failure of water infrastructure around the country.
Early last year, four people died in violent protests over a lack of water in the Mothotlung township outside Brits in North West. In the glare of national publicity, water was quickly restored.
But on Monday, almost exactly a year later, taps in the township again ran dry. When the water flowed again on Tuesday, it was brown.
“I am scared to drink water from the tap. I only use it for bathing and washing clothes. I do buy water from the tuck shop when I have money,” said 72-year-old widow Johana Ngwato.
“My daughter is six years old and, whenever she takes the water, she experiences diarrhea,” said Ngwato’s niece, Baile Masango.
In 2013, a two-week water outage in Grahamstown saw academics, in their formal caps and gowns, march in lockstep on the city council offices, with township residents following, brandishing placards.
Rhodes University, the lifeblood of the town, issued a stark warning that garnered national attention: without water it would have to close its doors.
On Monday night, the water supply went off again without warning in a section of the township overlooking Grahamstown, leaving Tembinkosi Mhlakaza to wonder at what point he should go to fetch water for his grandmother, and how far he would have to go to get it.
“She’s nearly 80,” Mhlakaza said. “Our water went out last night, and it may come on this afternoon. But if it doesn’t, I have to make a plan for her.”
Supply failures In 2014, the residents of Thlolong outside Kestell in the Free State were promised that a new dam would solve their water woes. On Wednesday, a resident, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal, said neither the dam nor emergency water supplies were anywhere to be seen.
“We are thirsty. It has been eight years now that we live like this. The tankers that the municipality use to bring us water are not here this week; we didn’t see them last week. We don’t know what we must do now.”
In Johannesburg, some suburbs were warned this week to expect weekend water outages because of scheduled maintenance at a pumping station — the same station that left some of the same suburbs, and some hospitals, without water for days last year. The maintenance plan was later postponed.
These are no longer isolated cases. According to government officials, about a third of all towns are in some form of serious water distress. The department of water considers one in 10 municipal water systems to be totally dysfunctional, and, of those that are working, a quarter experiences regular service disruptions of more than two days at a time.
In provinces such as Mpumalanga, there are more households that have regular water interruptions than those with a steady supply.
In Mothotlung and Grahamstown, the water supply issues can be linked directly to municipal incompetence, a lack of engineering skills and the failure of management. Neither area has a shortage of untreated water, but they are going thirsty because of a lack of maintenance and proper financial administration and planning.
These problems show no signs of abating, as bitter experience shows.
“If you give me the money and people, I can fix it up for good,” said a Grahamstown City engineer, who is not authorized to speak to the media. “Without money and people, I’ll keep it running as long as I can. Just don’t ask me to fix it quickly when it really all breaks down; then you can keep your money.”
In Johannesburg, water shortages in 2014 were caused by electricity failure to a key pumping station, which in turn was linked to cable theft.
With Eskom warning that there will be regular load-shedding for the rest of the summer, and unable to deliver consistent power for several more years, water engineers are trying to work out how to manage shortages.
Meagre reserve margins
In many areas, water systems have either little or very meagre reserve margins. Electricity outages at pumps that move raw water could leave treatment stations without water. And, without treated water to move, pumps responsible for distribution would be idle when they do get electricity.
These two factors — local incompetence and a national electricity shortage — will have the biggest impact on what, if anything, comes out of the taps for the next several years.
But, within the next decade, two other fundamental issues are likely to make themselves felt — problems that no amount of local governing excellence or electricity will solve.
For one, there is simply not enough water left to go around.
Johana Ngwato says she is too scared to drink the water in Mothotlung. (Gustav Butlex)
“The situation currently in South Africa is that we have 98% of the water in the country being considered fully allocated. This means that my child and your child that is being born tomorrow has 2% of water for use going into the future,” then water minister Edna Molewa said of water usage rights in 2013.
Eskom has a 99.5% assurance of receiving water, meaning the power utility gets water before any other sector of the economy.
The 2030 Water Resources Group, of which the department is a member, has calculated that, by 2030, the demand for water will exceed supply by 17%. In most of South Africa’s catchments, demand is already outstripping supply, and it is only by piping water from places such as Lesotho that there is enough for now.
Climate change projections are that, by mid-century, reduced rainfall could lower the amount of available water by 10%. Rainfall is expected to come in shorter, but more violent, spells. The projections say this will make collection in dams and underground difficult.
Exactly how much water is available is a complex calculation, with many variables and estimates to consider, and it is seasonal, to boot.
In lay terms, the easy water is already being harvested. Major South African rivers have been dammed to maximum capacity — there are nearly 4?400 registered dams – and some would argue beyond their capacity; river systems require what is sometimes referred to as an “ecological reserve," a minimum amount of water to continue functioning and be useful.
Barriers to supply
Water systems that could handle new dams are both far from population centers and limited in their ability to supply water.
“Many parts of the country have either reached or are fast approaching the point at which all of the financially viable freshwater resources are fully utilized and where building new dams will not address the challenges,” the department of water affairs said in its 2013 strategy report.
That leaves South Africa more dependent than ever on water pumped from Lesotho, where a new phase of the Highlands water scheme will come on line in 2020.
But all the run-off from Lesotho must inevitably flow through South Africa to the ocean, making even that water-rich country a finite resource for South Africans.
An increase in global temperatures is expected to increase evaporation from dams, which potentially makes building more an exercise in running on the spot rather than getting ahead.
More groundwater can be exploited, but only by so much. Desalination is possible, but it requires large amounts of electricity and is very expensive.
Little to go around
That all leaves little untreated water to go around, even without the expected increases in municipal use, because of a growing population, agricultural use, which is increasing the amount of land under irrigation and is a mainstay of plans to improve both employment and food security, and industrial use.
“Increases in water supply cannot match the expected increase in demand without additional and far-reaching interventions,” Steve Hedden and Jakkie Cilliers, of the Institute for Security Studies, wrote in a September 2014 paper. “The water crisis cannot be solved through engineering alone.”
The second structural problem is an unfolding ecological disaster, which is making available water more difficult to treat and, eventually and without intervention, will make direct use of untreated water impossible.
“Water ecosystems are not in a healthy state,” according to the department of water affairs’ National Water Resource Strategy 2013. “Of the 233 river ecosystem types, 60% are threatened, with 25% of these critically endangered … Of 792 wetland ecosystems, 65% have been identified as threatened, and 48% as critically endangered.”
The sources of pollution in fresh water include industrial run-off and acid mine drainage, but human waste is a larger and more immediately dangerous component, ironically because of the large amount of water South Africans use.
“Most waste water treatment facilities are under stress because so much more waste water needs to be treated,” said Gunnar Sigge, head of Stellenbosch University’s department of food science and one of those involved in a seminal — and alarming – 2012 study for the Water Research Commission.
“Some of the biggest problems [in the water system] are caused by treatment works that aren’t functioning.”
Jo Barnes, a specialist in community health risks at Stellenbosch, said a chronic lack of investment in treatment plants meant conditions that should not exist, such as diarrhea, were killing people.
“The whole environment where people live is contaminated. This is a massive, massive problem, but one that people will not talk about. There are just a few angry people trying to raise awareness.”
The 2012 study, carried out in all the provinces and over a three-to-four year period, found that the amount of faecal matter in many water systems made it unsafe for irrigation, because eating raw produce watered with it could cause illness.
Informal settlements both contribute to the pollution and are affected by it, and some draw directly on groundwater. According to the department of human settlements, the number of informal settlements rose from 300 in 1994 to about 2,700 today, housing 1.3-million families.
In Mothotlung, Serube Lukhelo is afraid to give her one-year-old baby water that could cause diarrhea, so she spends what money she has on bottled water.
In Grahamstown’s Joza location, Nomfundo Bentele is considering putting up a sign at her hair salon to let customers know whether she has water or not.
In Johannesburg residents and hospitals wait to hear when water from their taps will stop running.
Everywhere else the clock is ticking.
The Poverty Of Shamocracy" - Fat-Cats Living Large
Dry Run On The South African Gravy Train - Electric And Water Issues
The article above by the various authors is just one of the very serious challenges that are bearing on the poor and the government is still on a dry run of their now depleted Gravy Train. Just so that I complete the whole set of the Water Woes that Are headed or already a reality in south Africa, particularly amongst the poor, it is important to add here some reports and what they have to say about the type of responses thus far to the article above.
Kings, Wild and Phillip inform us as follows:
South Africa's electricity crisis is a grim portent: soon, we'll be in the same boat with water.
On this at least there is consensus: South Africa faces a thirsty future — even if there is still disagreement on the important details, such as just how bad the situation is right now and when it will be appropriate to call it a crisis.
From the vantage point of early 2015 the consensus seems laughably obvious, with every study and statistic and projection in agreement and anecdotes of daily struggles too numerous to ignore.
Yet it was a hard-won consensus; as recently as 2012 those predicting trouble could still have flipped a coin to calculate the odds of being listened to versus being branded alarmist and dismissed. Only in the past two years have scientists across different disciplines and technocrats across different levels of government come to agree — with notable political exceptions (see below) — that trouble is looming. What was recently deemed alarmist has become a simple fact.
But agreement is not action and those same scientists and technocrats now find themselves watching, increasingly aghast, as water follows the same course as electricity did between 1998, when consensus about a looming crisis was reached, and 2008, when the lights actually went out for the first time.
Seven years later there is still no security of electricity supply. And, relative to water, electricity is not a particularly hard problem to solve.
On the other hand, despite the life-or-death nature of water problems, they do not capture the imagination as electricity does. Electricity goes out all at once, but water dries up by dribs and drabs as availability peters off or quality slowly deteriorates until it is not fit for human consumption.
Between 1998 and 2004 new sources of electricity were not considered because of a controversial, and eventually scrapped, plan to privatize the sector. That policy reversal was itself partially reversed when it came to renewable energy. Much the same debate continues about municipal water supply, with talk of “public-private partnerships” rather than “privatization”.
With electricity running short, a great deal of effort and money was put into attempts to reduce demand from major industrial users and ordinary citizens through education, exhortation and, eventually, downright pleading. With water the equivalent effort is reducing part of the estimated one-third of all treated water that is lost through leaks or is not paid for. But that task has proven harder and more expensive than initially thought, and flamboyant promises to halve losses by 2014 have been quietly forgotten.
Circa 1998 electricity was too cheap to fund new supplies or bring in private suppliers, and the low price encouraged spendthrift use. Eskimo argues it is still too cheap, despite massive price hikes that were politically unpopular and economically destructive. Today the price of water is below the cost of supply.
Last year the water affairs department said municipalities owe more than R2-billion for water sold to them, and the Water Research Commission said R11-billion in revenue is lost annually because of leaks and users not paying their dues. Eskimo, too, is owed enormous amounts by municipalities and a problem with illegal connections. To date the utility has not been able to collect debt effectively or contain theft.
Water prices have never reflected costs because keeping the price low encouraged agriculture and industry, and kept the lid on the cost of living. To get around the implications, the water department established the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority to finance big projects. This independent vehicle could get cheap loans because it had a functional business model and was not undermined by municipalities, said a senior water affairs official. This is the authority working on the Lesotho Highlands water project and acid mine drainage.
“We can raise funds for big projects that pay back. But for maintaining infrastructure and building regional dams the financial model just does not work at the price we are charging for water,” said the official.
A case in point is the newly completed De Hoop Dam in Limpopo. It was built at a cost of about R5-billion to grow local mining ventures and bring water to a dry region. “The mines were supposed to pay for half of the construction costs in a public-private partnership, but they skipped out on the promise,” the official said. They will, however, pay for water as consumers. “The rest of water users will probably not pay for water, so what does that do to the books?”
The options for new water are much more expensive than the current cost of water. Water affairs figures show that recycling water is double the cost of sourcing water from dams, and water from desalination plants costs five times more.
All of this leaves, by the 2014 estimate of Water Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, a R670-billion hole where the money should be to provide water over the next 10 years. That number is up by R100-billion since her predecessor’s estimate, two years before. The money is yet to be forthcoming and the longer we wait, the more expensive it will be.
The political doublespeak of water access
Two consecutive water ministers have agreed, and Parliament has acknowledged, that whether South Africa faces a water crisis is a matter of semantics or perhaps timing. But right at the top the political establishment is still clinging to a different — and far more positive — narrative.
In his 2014 State of the Nation address President Jacob Zuma said that 95% of South Africans have “access to water," a figure that subsequently showed up on ANC election posters. Zuma hailed it as a great accomplishment, given that apartheid gave priority to white people and industry. Technically the figure may be defendable, but not by much.
“Access” requires that citizens have a water system in their area of residence — but does not mean water needs to come out of the taps consistently or in drinkable form.
"The wiggle room, however, is reducing. In 2013, the Pretoria high court, ruling on demands from people in the Mpumalanga town of Carolina for sufficient water provision, said water had to be a maximum of 200 m away from people’s houses and consistently available, and that each person should have access to 25 liters a day for free. That is a detailed interpretation of a more general constitutional guarantee."(ibid)
The water department has never directly contradicted Zuma and the ANC’s claim. But in response to Mail & Guardian questions it said that “reliable services are in the order of 65% nationally”. That equates to five million households, or nearly 20-million people, who do not have regular flowing water — far more than the 2.6-million people the 95% figure would suggest."
Drought Of Things To Come-Globally..
A thirsty future beckons
This piece below was written as an Editorial in the Mail & Guardian:
Water scarcity is here and we need to act now, as this is more difficult to solve than the electricity crisis.
South Africa is in the midst of a water crisis, with worse to come unless government puts money and political will where its mouth is. We are in the same situation with water that Eskom was in a decade ago with regard to the provision of electricity. We saw the signs then but did nothing.
Half of the country’s sewerage plants are not working and release polluted water into rivers, which is used by people in poor communities and to irrigate crops. People are already dying in places such as Bloemhof and there are increasingly frequent protests about water around the country. But we report on them sporadically, rather than seeing the wood for the trees.
Unlike electricity, though, water scarcity is more difficult to solve: South Africa is developing and the water infrastructure just cannot keep up; municipalities struggle to attract and retain skills to maintain water treatment plants and corruption pokes holes in a money bucket that was not full enough to begin with. About R11-billion worth of water leaks away through rusty pipes or is stolen every year.
But to make decisions, we need data: the Blue Drop report into water treatment plants does not look at water quality, and the Green Drop report into sewerage plants has quietly vanished. The water affairs department says it needs R670-billion to fix infrastructure and to build for a growing population, but it only has half of this and is hoping for public-private partnerships.
But, like electricity a decade ago, water is too cheap to attract private sector investment. Ironically, power plants need water to give us electricity and the water pumps need power to give us clean water. Although the next few years of sporadic electricity look bleak, a future without water is desperate, even without the specter of climate change looming on the horizon.
Yes, we are a water-scarce country, but the current scarcity is a result of poor governance and underinvestment. The ruling party claims 95% of the population has access to water, but on the ground about a third of the population — 18-million people — do not have access to water on a regular basis. This number is set to increase if we do not act now.
Coal Cripples Our Water
A Terrifying Home-Front
That is only one or two crises that are headed our way. The other problem we have is Nepotism, favoritism, loyalty, cronyism, "Tribal Tendencies," and a whole schtick of much-ado-about nothing. The last point, although seemingly innocuously generalized and unspecific, in fact, in the context I am about to talk about in South Africa, it matters a great deal.
Unemployment is rife and chronic. Food prices have gone up drastically, so has Gasoline. The Rand is around Rands per One Dollar; Everything else is topsy-turvy and going downhill in social delivery and governance; corruption is the norm; miseducation and lack thereof Dumbs Down everyone else; Clowns in parliament entertain us, whilst nothing of note gets done, except shady deals and other crooked maneuvering which are the present modus operandi; nurses are poorly trained and causing havoc in the hospitals; teachers in many schools, high schools and those of Higher learning are inept, and there's a dire shortage of teachers and nursing training colleges. The inhabitants of the country have never felt so insecure and scared; nobody really knows what's going to happen next.
Drugs are wiping out whole communities and families; Drugs like Nyaope, Whoonga and the like are the staple and have decimated many in our midst. Diseases like HIV/Aids are still smoldering and snuffing huge chunks of life out the poor and unemployed armies of the dispossessed; massive amounts of money are spent frivolously and wasted by the Honchos who hold sway on every aspect of power in the country. Intimidation and other forms of coercion are the way life has come to be realized and known to be like in the country; there's a huge growth of slums, foreign underemployed, poorly employed workers from north Africa; there's a lot of racism, xenophobia, strikes, everyone chasing fantom tenders, and even if they are real, many do not even know what to do with them once they get them, of course, through crooked means.
Mzantsi today is a very intriguing country for it seems to be the playground for all, and these foreigners, in our land, tell us where to get off, for they can see all this confusion and disunity that we are perpetuating amongst ourselves; Of course, that is the legacy of Apartheid we carried-over into the Rule of the ANC, who are hell-bent of retaining and containing the present decrepit social miasma.
So that, upon reading the posted articles above, one can glean what I am talking about from many parts of these articles.
Half of the country's sewerage plants are not working, and they release polluted concoctions into the rivers. Apparently these rivers are used by the poor in their dilapidated communities. The present government cannot keep up with the building of water infrastructure; municipalities are hard-pressed to contain and retain enough skilled personnel to take care of water treatment plats. Upwards of 12 Billion Rands of water leaks from rusted and old pipes account for water waster. In my Township, there's always a leak which takes many months up to years without being attended to by any government entity.
Electricity which too is being rationed, is one other aspect which is not really talked about much, but it affects millions of poor people in South Africa. Some of the electricity in South Africa is sold to North Africa, which has issues of lack of electricity, Some of it is sold for a song - 4 cents per kilowatt hour to the Big mega-companies; worse, some water, especially the water in our aquifers and underground rivers is being redirected to the burgeoning Coal mines and gold companies sprouting along the big Rivers in Mzantsi. What this has done, this has begun creating barren dry lands above-ground where these rivers use to flow underground, and the depletion of the aquifers, are all contributing to the drought that we read a lot about above and elsewhere.
Water Lines In Mzantsi - A New Normal... Or Is It-- Reminiscent of the Water Taps in Early 60 Townships of South africa
Water: The New Gold, but Scarce In Mzantsi
There are communities around the South Africa that are at War concerning water shortage and drought. This pas summer has witnessed these occurrences - see photo above.
Sipho Kings informs us below that:
"South Africa’s crisis is also one of availability. A report by auditing firm KPMG on the water sector this year said the country is the 30th driest in the world. Aggregated, each South African had 100 cubic meters of water a year. Annual rainfall was 500 mm, against a world average of 860 mm.
"At current consumption rates, South Africa will be using more water than it has by 2025, according to the water affairs department. By 2030, it will be using 17% more, according to the 2030 Water Resources Group.
"This is why the water affairs department needs R600-billion. Its biggest water scheme, the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, will come online in 2022. The project already provides most of Gauteng with its fresh water, at a minimum annual cost of R150-million paid to Lesotho, just for access. The second phase will cost R11-billion.
"Water ministers Molewa and Mokonyane, as well as senior department personnel, have mentioned on numerous occasions that public-private partnerships are the only way to bridge the R300-billion funding gap.
This has been heavily opposed by groups such as the Coalition Against Water Privatization. It said that privatization policies in the 1990s led to a “dramatic increase in the price of water for the poor across South Africa”.
In Mbombela this led to an increase of up to 69% in the cost of water. In KwaZulu-Natal it led to a cholera outbreak in 2000. When communal taps were replaced by a prepaid metering system people were forced to turn to rivers for their water, the coalition said.
But municipalities have also faced the collapse of their water and sewerage works, because of a lack of funding for these. In Lekwa Teemane, outside Bloemhof in the Free State, three babies died because of water being contaminated by raw sewage.
In her budget speech this year, Mokonyane said R41-million was being taken from other parts of the water affairs budget to fix the problem.
Load-Sharing - Blackout South Africa
Worsening electricity crisis adds to South Africa’s economic woes
Here's an illuminating article by Andrew England:
Bruno Dimana sits in the dark at the menswear shop he helps manage in a usually bustling district of Johannesburg, and sighs at the latest power cut that he says keeps customers away.
“It’s bad,” he says. “Nobody wants to shop in the dark.”
Mr Dimana’s shop was one of scores of businesses in the Rosebank area of the city left without lights on Monday as Eskom, the state utility, launched its latest round of load shedding — planned power cuts designed to help conserve electricity supplies.
The outages are the worst since 2008 and come as the company grapples with a power crisis partly caused by years of insufficient investment in infrastructure that is heaping more pain on South Africa’s already ailing economy.
The problems come amid mounting pressure on the rand — which hit six-year lows against the US dollar this week — and scrutiny on the government’s credit rating with Fitch, the rating agency, due to deliver the results of its review on Friday. Last week, Richard Fox, a Fitch analyst, warned that the government’s deteriorating finances were pushing the nation towards junk status.
Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have already downgraded South Africa this year, with electricity shortages included among structural constraints.
Just hours after Mr Dimana sat in the darkness waiting for customers, Tshediso Matona, Eskom’s chief executive, stood before TV cameras and apologized to the nation for the latest load-shedding.
High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and peaking after five consecutive days of outages, Mr Matona blamed the cuts on “unexpected challenges” in the creaking system. These included the difficulty of securing millions of liters of diesel to run back-up gas turbines; poor coal quality and nearly two-thirds of Eskom’s installed baseload capacity being past its “mid-life”.
And after years of poor planning and under-investment — seen as a symptom of failed management at state-owned entities — there will be no quick fix for Eskom’s woes, the company admits. Instead, supply will remain severely constrained into next year and beyond.
“We are living on the edge,” Mr Matona said. “Any abnormal event . . . pushes us over into load-shedding.”
High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and
The utility insists it is in control of the situation and has been trying to restrict load-shedding to weekends. But in addition to the outages, Eskom has this year often required energy intensive industries to cut their consumption by 10 per cent.
This hits the mining and manufacturing sectors, which together contribute about a fifth of gross domestic product in Africa’s most developed and energy intensive economy.
Dennis Dykes, chief economist at Nedbank, estimates the power constraints could shave up to 0.5 per cent off growth, which is forecast to be 1.4 per cent this year — the lowest level since a 2009 recession.
“The indirect effects could be a lot more significant because of the loss from the fixed investment,” he said. “People are not going to put in additional production capacity knowing they might be faced with power cuts.”
Neren Rau, chief executive of the chamber of commerce and industry (Sacci), said he was particularly worried about retailers being hit by the weekend outages — small businesses that cannot afford contingencies and tourism-dependent towns.
“We are in crisis,” Mr Rau said. “The maintenance challenges and the failures [at Eskom] we are experiencing are increasing and becoming deeper in terms of their impact.”
The problems at Eskom, which produces more than 95 per cent of South Africa’s electricity, date back years. In an effort to keep the country’s lights on, the utility has put off maintenance since before the 2010 football World Cup and has concentrated on keeping existing, rundown plants running.
Eskom has generation capacity of about 43,000MW, but its plant availability is only 75 per cent — 10 per cent less than five years ago. The situation was exacerbated when a coal silo at its Majuba plant collapsed on November 1. Coal now has to be trucked from a stockyard and offloaded on to mobile conveyors, dramatically reducing the plant’s output.
At the same time, four gas turbines designed to run for three hours at peak periods are running at 14 to 15 hours to support the system. This cost Eskom R1.3bn in diesel last month, putting severe financial strain on the cash-strapped utility.
Eskom is building two multibillion dollar coal plants — Medupi and Kusile — which will add 9,600MW to the grid. But their completion has been delayed by more than two years — 12 months of which is put down to worker strikes — and they have run far over budget.
The first unit of Medupi will add 800MW and is due to go on line next year. But Eskom is three to five years away from recovering its reserve margin.
“February and March are looking pretty concerning,” Mr Matona said. “Whether we load-shed because we run out of diesel [for the gas turbines] suggests the problem is bigger than Eskom’s — it’s a national problem.”
Fracking, Coal And Gold Mining-South African Water Threatened
Where's the Water Gone To? What has or is happening to Water in South Africa. If the article above by England is anything to go by, prior to my posting, on this Hub, I had pointed out, albeit scantily, at some of the water draining institutions that are taking water away from the poor people. England goes for the jugular and gives some serious details.
Above I touched upon the falling Rand currency of south Africa. Andrew England gives us the heads-up below:
When South Africa was lumped with the so-called “fragile five” emerging countries last year, government officials protested loudly at what they saw as a pejorative label.
As emerging market currencies, including the rand, tumbled, South African officials deflected any sense of crisis. They argued the currency had been overvalued. And, unlike India, Brazil and Indonesia, which committed billions of dollars to prop up their currencies, South Africa ruled out an intervention.
Yet, after months peppered with bleak domestic economic news, the rand — one of the most liquid emerging markets currencies — is once again under heavy pressure, this week testing the five-year low it hit earlier this year.
In January, the rand crossed the symbolic R11 to the dollar, at one point hitting R11.395 against the greenback, the weakest since October 2008. Now, after a period of relative stability it has fallen again below the key mark, on Wednesday hitting a 7-month low of R11.194 against the dollar.
Over the past year, the rand has lost 13.1 per cent against the dollar, compared with a 9.5 per cent fall for the Brazilian real and 12.1 per cent for the Turkish lira. The Indonesian rupiah has fallen 6.3 per cent over the same period.
For some, the recent weakness is a case of déjà vu: the rand’s slide is blamed on largely the same factors as earlier this year. “Obviously there are internal reasons, but the starting point is really related to the global theme,” says Murat Toprak, a foreign exchange strategist at HSBC in London.
The rand’s weakness in 2013 and early this year was in large part blamed on the US Federal Reserve’s decision to begin tapering its “quantitative easing” program. This time, dollar strength and expectations the US will move towards monetary “normalization” — a rise in interest rates from historic lows — are seen as affecting the rand.
“The reason it is performing so badly is that it is again related to one main topic — the fragile five. So the price action that we have at the moment is very similar to what we have seen last year,” says Mr Toprak.
But other analysts put more emphasis on domestic factors: Africa’s most developed economy is weighed down by anaemic growth and a huge current account deficit. Malcolm Charles, portfolio manager at Investec, says recent economic data have dented expectations of an improving trajectory.
“The dollar has been quite rampant so one would expect some general emerging market weakness. [But] if you draw down into the rand specifics, we haven’t had a lot of good news of late,” Mr Charles explains. “I’m more worried than I was a month or two ago, when we were expecting a slightly improved current account deficit and were quite confident that inflation had peaked.”
Kevin Lings, chief economist at Stanlib, a South African asset manager, traces the current bout of weakness to data this month revealing that the current account deficit had widened from 4.5 per cent of gross domestic product to 6.2 per cent of GDP. This was significantly wider than expected and illustrated that, in spite of lackluster growth, imports remained high while exports were worryingly low.
The hope had been that exports would pick up following the end of two highly damaging strikes — the first a five-month dispute in the platinum sector, the second a weeks-long stoppage by more than 200,000 metalworkers and engineers that affected thousands of companies.
The strikes pushed South Africa to the brink of a technical recession. Although growth recovered slightly in the second quarter, Mr Lings is concerned that the economy is not “rebalancing” in terms of exports and imports.
“It’s hard to make a forecast that says that the rand is going to strengthen back to fair value,” Mr Lings says. “We are going to struggle, for example, to raise interest rates significantly to draw in a lot of foreign flows because of weak growth and we are going to struggle to really unwind the current account deficit meaningfully.”
The rand took another hit when interest rates were kept on hold last week, a move that surprised some foreign analysts. At the same time, Gill Marcus, the respected central bank governor, announced she would not seek to renew her term when it expired in November.
That triggered some uncertainty as her successor has yet to be named. The foreign exchange market took the lack of clarity as a green light to sell. Few believe the sell-off will end any time soon.
South Africa's current account deficit widened beyond expectations
Polluting Water Table, Underwater River and Poisoning The Environ
Fracking And Wrecking The Aquifers and Water Tables/Underground Rivers
We learn from Ian Urbina that:
When a drought dried up their wells last year, hundreds of farmers and their families flocked to local fairgrounds here to pray for rain, and a call went out on the regional radio station imploring South Africans to donate bottled water.
Covering much of the roughly 800 miles between Johannesburg and Cape Town, this arid expanse — its name means “thirsty land” — sees less rain in some parts than the Mojave Desert.
Even so, Shell and several other large energy companies hope to drill thousands of natural gas wells in the region, using a new drilling technology that can require a million gallons of water or more for each well. Companies will also have to find a way to dispose of all the toxic wastewater or sludge that each well produces, since the closest landfill or industrial-waste facility that can handle the waste is hundreds of miles away.
“Around here, the rain comes on legs,” said Chris Hayward, 51, a brawny, dust-covered farmer in Beaufort West, quoting a Karoo saying about how rare and fleeting precipitation is in the area.
With his three skinny border collies crouching dutifully at his side, Mr. Hayward explained that he had to slaughter more than 600 of his 2,000 sheep last year because there was not enough water to go around.
“If our government lets these companies touch even a drop of our water,” he said, “we’re ruined.”
South Africa is among the growing number of countries that want to unlock previously inaccessible natural gas reserves trapped in shale deep underground. The drilling technology — hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for short — holds the promise of generating new revenue through taxes on the gas, creating thousands of jobs for one of the country’s poorest regions, and fueling power plants to provide electricity to roughly 10 million South Africans who live without it.
But many of the sites here and on other continents that are being considered for drilling by oil and gas companies and by governments short of cash are in fragile areas where local officials have limited resources, political leverage or experience to ensure that the drilling is done safely.
A Surge in Interest
The interest from big energy companies in South Africa and elsewhere means that shale gas may redraw the global energy map, according to many energy experts.
Michael Klare, a professor of world security studies at Hampshire College, said that the new sources of natural gas from shale may lessen the geopolitical importance of countries that historically have been the biggest producers of natural gas, including Iran, Qatar and Russia. The new drilling, which draws strong support from the United States government, represents a boon for American companies like Halliburton, Chesapeake Energy and Exxon Mobil that have greater experience with shale gas, and therefore are likely to win many lucrative contracts abroad.
More than 30 countries, including China, India and Pakistan, are now considering fracking for natural gas or oil, and the surge in gas production has spurred interest in building pipelines and terminals that liquefy the fuel so it can be shipped to far-flung markets. In the United States, shale gas has increased supply, driving prices down and benefiting industrial plants that use the gas for manufacturing and consumers who depend on it for electricity, heating or cooking.
But the enthusiasm abroad, especially in less-developed regions, does carry risks, according to many energy experts.
“The big problem is that all the excitement around shale gas, most of it fostered by the U.S., has also led some countries, especially in the developing world, to take a drill-first, figure-out-regulations-later attitude,” said Professor Klare, who has written extensively about the way that energy policies affect global security. “There is simply too much being taken on faith when it comes to company reassurances about the safety and costs of this drilling.”
The Indonesian government, for example, is considering allowing drilling for shale gas in a part of Java where, in 2006, drilling led to the eruption of a mud volcano that killed at least 13 people, and displaced more than 30,000 residents from 12 villages, according to a team of international scientists. Indonesia is a major exporter of liquefied natural gas, but it struggles to meet domestic demand, and supporters of the shale drilling project say it will help solve that problem.
Shale gas in Poland may represent more than a third of the natural gas resources in Europe, according to energy experts, and could help the country reduce its dependence on Russia, which now supplies about 60 percent of Poland’s gas.
But an April 2010 report by Bernstein Research, a market research group, raised concerns about the costs and risks of shale gas drilling because Poland is so densely populated, dependent on agriculture and farmers will have to compete with drillers for water.
“Europe and some of the countries with shale potential have significantly less renewable water resources than the US,” the report warned.
A U.S. Initiative
In the United States, where the water-intensive drilling technique of fracking was invented, the government is taking a lead role in supporting the dissemination of the technology abroad, as well as promoting other energy projects, including building infrastructure to extract and transport liquid natural gas.
Over the past three years, President Obama has promoted shale gas during visits to China, India and Poland.
“We believe that there is the capacity technologically to extract that gas in a way that is entirely safe,” Mr. Obama said in a speech in May in Warsaw, where the American Embassy co-hosted an international shale gas conference.
The Export-Import Bank of the United States has financed some of its biggest gas projects over the last several years, including the largest transaction in the bank’s history — $3 billion approved in 2009 for hundreds of miles of gas pipeline and a liquid natural gas plant and terminal project led by Exxon Mobil in Papua New Guinea.
The United States Geological Survey has offered training and technology to geologists exploring shale gas in Europe.
In 2009, the United States and China signed an agreement to promote accelerated development of shale gas in China, which has major shale gas deposits in Inner Mongolia in the North and in the country’s restive western frontier, Xinjiang, which is characterized by severe droughts and a separatist movement.
The State Department’s Global Shale Gas Initiative, begun in 2010, has been advising many foreign countries on fracking. It has organized a half-dozen trips this year for foreign officials to meet with American energy experts and to visit drilling sites in the United States.
The Web site for the initiative says that its primary goals are “to achieve greater energy security, meet environmental objectives and further US economic and commercial interests.”
Concern About Effects
Some economists and environmentalists say that while the governments of poorer countries may benefit from the new tax revenues and jobs, they may not be paying enough attention to the environmental risks of drilling. They also note that local residents — who bear the brunt of the air pollution, potential water contamination from spills or underground seepage, and truck traffic that come with drilling — may see few benefits.
“These projects have already started causing steep inflation in costs of local housing and services, and except for the lucky few who get temporary construction jobs, the economic conditions for local communities can actually get worse,” said Doug Norlen, policy director of Pacific Environment, an advocacy and research organization that tracks federal and corporate financing of energy projects abroad.
The direct benefits of new drilling to American landowners — they receive bonuses and royalties when they lease their land to drillers — will generally not be shared by landowners abroad. In South Africa and many other countries looking to embrace the drilling, the minerals under a property are more often owned by governments, not individuals.
Mr. Norlen added that the influx of foreign construction workers in these projects could lead to conflicts with local and tribal communities. In one example, he noted, the United States government-financed project in Papua New Guinea to extract and transport liquid natural gas recently led to violent clashes between residents and foreign contractors.
But Jan Willem Eggink, general manager for Shell in South Africa, said that the Karoo project could eventually produce millions of dollars in direct investment and thousands of jobs for South Africans, which would help lower the nation’s unemployment rate of about 25 percent.
“There is a huge energy problem looming for South Africa,” he added, explaining that energy demand is growing rapidly and that shale gas coupled with renewables could help meet that new demand while also lowering the nation’s dependence on Mozambique for gas.
Fracking involves injecting large amounts of water mixed with chemicals and sand at very high pressure deep underground to crack rock and release gas. After fracking, much of the water at each well returns to the surface mixed with toxic chemicals.
Shell’s plan is to drill at least six exploratory wells over the next three years, and if the gas reserves appear profitable, it will start production with at least 1,500 wells several years later. Martin Bell, the water manager for Shell’s Karoo project, said the company planned to recycle as much wastewater as possible, storing it temporarily in closed containers. Trucks will not be the primary method for moving waste or water, he said. Drilling waste, which could be especially toxic because the area is high in uranium deposits, will be shipped to disposal plants by pipes or by rail, Mr. Bell said.
Water needed for fracking may be brought in by rail from the coast, which is hundreds of miles away in some parts, or drawn from aquifers far below the ones that supply water for farmers. The company will tap into the aquifers that farmers use only if it can prove no adverse impact, Mr. Bell said.
In interviews, South African drilling regulators emphasized that producing and using more natural gas would help the country’s air pollution problems and avoid increasing its already heavy dependence on coal for electricity, since coal is dirtier than natural gas when burned.
But in this sun-flooded hinterland, where sheep outnumber humans and rusty windmills pumping water dot the horizon, many residents say they would prefer to see the government bring in wind or solar farms, not new drilling.
“It just takes one big spill, leaky pipe or crack underground that their studies didn’t catch, and a farm my family has run for four generations is done,” said Trenly Spence, 44, as he dug up a clogged irrigation pipe that carries water across his 3,300 acres to where his 3,000 sheep and goats graze.
Mr. Spence added that farmers had been frustrated by the lack of information from Shell officials about the chemicals they would inject into the ground during fracking.
Shell officials said that they would disclose what they could about fracking formulas if they started drilling, but that they might be limited by trade secrets of their subcontractors.
In the United States, some drilling companies have been reluctant to reveal the chemicals they use in fracking, saying the information is proprietary.
Officials from the State Department’s shale gas initiative have said that developing countries interested in fracking will need to create stronger protections for intellectual property rights so energy companies will think that they can safely maintain certain patents over their drilling techniques. Some environmentalists say that strengthening these intellectual property protections will only help energy companies argue that they do not have to disclose the chemicals they use in fracking abroad.
A spokesman for the State Department declined to answer questions about fracking and intellectual property rights. But he emphasized that the initiative’s goal is to help countries make informed decisions about their resources, rather than promoting shale gas abroad.
“The regulatory and financial climate is obviously important to companies considering an investment in unconventional gas,” the spokesman said in an e-mail. “But sound environmental regulations and policies are also critical, as is working with local communities and other stakeholders to understand the impact of shale gas on their lives.”
Some legal experts say that the United States needs to be more concerned about environmental and other impacts as it promotes energy technology abroad. David Hunter, director of the Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law at American University, said, “Especially with energy projects, the US and its funding institutions have a habit of promoting policies that foster a stable climate for foreign investors but that are not in the best interests of local populations.”
In Peru, for example, the United States Export-Import bank provided more than $400 million in loan guarantees in 2008 for a liquefied natural gas terminal to export gas from the Camisea gas fields, which are in the Amazon rainforest. The project for drilling and pipelines in the Camisea, which received separate financing from the Inter-American Development Bank, has been dogged by spills, accusations that company officials bribed lawmakers and criticisms about exporting the gas rather than using more of it to lower prices for domestic consumers.
Energy companies are using fracking technology in parts of Canada, bringing jobs and wealth to gas-rich provinces like Alberta and British Columbia. But residents near drilling sites have complained that natural gas has seeped into their water wells making their tap water flammable. Drillers have denied responsibility.
In South Africa, pressure is mounting to proceed cautiously.
After public concerns were raised this year about drilling in the Karoo region, South African drilling officials set a moratorium on new licenses for exploration until February so the government could conduct more research.
In July, the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa, an independent agency that sets guidelines for media companies, ruled that several of Shell’s advertised claims — including one that said fracking had never led to groundwater contamination — were misleading or unsubstantiated and should be withdrawn. Shell said the advertisements were an accurate reflection of its opinion.
“The government is under a great deal of pressure to hurry up,” said Hein Rust, director of disaster management for the central Karoo region. “But I don’t think these decisions should be made on faith or until all the costs are known.”
Things Not Changed, and Did Not So's To Stay The Same..
The crisis in South Africa is manifold. One can see the breakdown within the Local governments has become an arena of contentions with huge poverty issues, inherited by the poor, fromApartheid's efforts with its racially infected capitalist society, with its draconian Laws, in the process impoverishing the African poor masses.
This cannot be understand merely as Neoliberalism, or as class manifestations of global economic forces, and is the main frame of ideas informing our real-politic today in Mzantsi, but, in the final analysis, this approach and perspective has proven to be inadequate for any level of analysis. One of the things to consider is how to begin to forge and form a nation of South Africa, today. The struggle that was happening was that the Multicores were pining to be included into the global market, and shed of the constraints of Ant-Apartheid which brought down Apartheid, and disturbed their profit margins.
As such, it encompasses but extends beyond the extremely conservative package of neoliberal macro-economic policies set in place in 1996.
The most compelling analysis of changing relations between corporate capital, the global economy and the South African State highlights what Ben Fine and others call the minerals energy complex that has shaped capitalist accumulation in South Africa since the minerals discoveries in the second half of the nineteenth century, and that remains in force today.
From all these going-ons, Gilliard observer that:
"This analysis, as we shall see, directs attention to the heavily concentrated character of South African corporate capital; the highly advantageous terms on which these conglomerates engineered their re-engagement with the global economy after the fall of apartheid through their relations with strategically placed forces in the ANC; how the conglomerates have restructured and denationalized their operations; massive and escalating capital flight; the formation of a small but powerful black capitalist class allied with white corporate capital; understandings of the ‘economy’ fostered through these alliances; their ongoing influence over ANC government policy; and multiple ways these forces continue to play into and intensify brutal inequalities and the degradation of livelihoods of a large proportion of the black South African population."
One other interesting nugget I picked up from Gilliard was when he wrote:
"A second key dimension of official post-apartheid re-nationalisation is found in the ANC government’s immigration policies and practices.
Indigenerality and rainbowism coincided with what Jonathan Crush (1999a) calls ‘Fortress South Africa’ — the ANC government’s latching onto apartheid-era immigration legislation premised on control, exclusion and expulsion.
The Aliens Control Act was repealed in 2002, but the bounding of the nation through immigration policy and practices — as well as popular vigilantism, abuses by police and brutal detention of ‘aliens’ — have ramped up and fed into xenophobia.
Third, the most important elements of post-apartheid nationalism are embodied in the keywords of the ANC Alliance: the ‘national question’ and the National Democratic Revolution (NDR)."
I have already noted elsewhere that the ANC rule today, is a continuation of Apartheid, but this time for the benefit of the ANC rulers. So far, 20+ years of their rule, the ANC has become even more bolder, arrogant and very much full of a "Laager Mindset" of its 'groomed' and middle-aged/old stalwarts' membership-with the hordes of followers as an 'after-thought'. But as they continue to plunder the public coffers, the ANC's hegemony is teetering. They have lost much moral authority and any sense of nationalism because of the corruption and herd-mentality with which they run their crew.
There is a brewing discontent amongst its voting and general polity. There are all kinds of criticism that the ANC has been implementing ideas of censorship-they are even working on censoring the Internet-How they will do that, I still will want to see myself. The masses are really restless and uneasy with all the issues, about water and electricity, raising gas prices, joblessness, poverty, expensive electric and water charges, failing clinics and schools, demoralized and battered families and sorties, general sickness, crime, death and flaunted corruption of all kinds, by the present ruling ANC and their sidekicks
This is how Gramsci saw national unification:
Passive revolution refers not just to a top-down seizure of power by the bourgeoisie in the face of challenges from below. Rather, it involves the overthrow of some older social forms and the institution of new ones, combined with a deliberate and structural pacification of subaltern classes — it combines, in other words, both a ‘progressive’ or ‘modernizing’ revolution of sorts, and its passive deformation."(Gramsci)
For Gramsci, passive revolution was not an abstract model that can simply be applied or against which specific ‘cases’ can be measured. The challenge, both analytical and political, is to rework — or as Gramsci might have said ‘translate’ — it in relation to the forces thrown up by a different set of circumstances.
The ANC has clearly betrayed the premise that 'when they took over power," there were going to go ahead and implement a fundamental redistribution of political and economic power. Saul and Gelb "Focused on how South African corporate capital wrun