The Jewish Report Editorial

Shedding our load before the holiday

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Load shedding is on my mind this week, having had fewer hours of electricity at home than I have had in the gym. The problems arising from this national dilemma abound.
by PETA KROST MAUNDER | Dec 12, 2019

Am I angry? Am I feeling despondent and worried? Are you?

As I sit in the dark at home on Tuesday night to I write this (thank goodness for having charged my laptop at the office), I feel quite isolated from the rest of the world. Load shedding does that. And the incessant rain we have had in Johannesburg over the past week has exacerbated that feeling, as has the unstable cellular-phone connections also caused by load shedding.

Being in contact with the world outside our dark home hasn’t been as easy as usual, not least of all if we can’t charge our phone, laptop, and other devices.

And it certainly doesn’t help when load shedding leads to long-term power outages – as was the case in our area because as substations are switched on again, they can’t take the surge.

What a reminder of just how dependent we are on technology and electricity to survive in this world! What a reminder of the situation we are in on the southern tip of Africa! What a reminder of how much worse things could get if nothing is done to fix the status quo!

Blaming it on “wet coal”, or any number of reasons, isn’t the answer. We have a problem that nobody seems to be able to fix so far. (See page 1.)

As the chairperson of the board of the SA Jewish Report, Howard Sackstein, wrote on Facebook this week, “It’s difficult to be an optimist in the dark.”

If load shedding was the only problem, it would be easier to find the silver lining. But, just this week, our national carrier was put into business rescue, and not a moment too soon. It – like Eskom – has been draining the country’s already empty coffers. Finally, there is acceptance that South African Airways can’t carry on as it is. But it’s still a sad state of affairs.

Then, with the rain came flooding that devastated certain areas while others remain in serious drought.

All the above has taken its toll on the rand, and as some economists are saying, it could throw us into recession.

All of this makes for a tough week at the end of a tough year.

And we aren’t looking to our president with much hope because thus far, he has hardly engendered a sense of being in control of the situation. I mean, he did fly off to attend a conference in Egypt just as stage 6 load shedding was announced. Someone must have shouted in his ear that, as president, he needed to be here to fix our problems, not trying to deliberate over world peace. Mr President, surely you know that you first have to sort out our problems before you can consider healing the world?

I keep waiting in hope that President Cyril Ramaphosa will prove his mettle, stand up as a true leader should, and be bold. But we aren’t even hearing him whimper these days.

In spite of all of this, I can say I would rather be here in the dark than heading into an election where the unapologetic anti-Semite, Jeremy Corbyn, might be the next prime minister of my country. (See page 6.)

I’m also grateful that while it’s not fun being in the dark, I don’t have threatening fires burning less than 12km away, as is the case in Sydney, Australia.

I’m also grateful that my family, friends and I are nowhere near the volcanic eruption in New Zealand.

And in New Jersey, United States, this week, gunfire rained down near a kosher deli, killing at least three chassids in a targeted attack. (See page 4.)

Isn’t it amazing that when you look around you, it always seems that what we have in our midst isn’t quite as bad as it feels.

What’s more, we have something to celebrate. Our own Miss South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi, was crowned Miss Universe. In the past, I may well have pooh-poohed this because I don’t think much of beauty pageants. But I’m not doing so right now.

Tunzi is an impressive human being, one who will make a great ambassador for our country and a role model for our girl children. I love the fact that she is passionate about teaching young girls leadership. She is fervent about enabling girls to be what they dream of being, and setting aside the social expectations of them. May she be successful in her endeavours. (See page 10.)

Astonishingly, while some of us celebrate her victory, others have criticised it. Such is the nature of South Africans.

But there is a side to us that I love, and that is that no matter how dark it gets here, no matter how bad, we find the humour in our situation.

While sitting in the dark, I have laughed and laughed at some of the memes and jokes that have either been sent to me or I saw on social media.

This is a trait that will get us through these tough times. And we will get through them.

I know right now, it feels like everything is bad, bad, so bad. But the sun will come up tomorrow, and we will have a well-deserved holiday. We will laugh, and spend time with our loved ones. We will read good books. We will listen to music. We will celebrate Chanukah, and remember the miracle this festival commemorates.

And we will start 2020 with a new lease on life. We will start the year looking back with ‘2020’ vision on 2019. We will see what was right and wrong, and how we can make the new year better.

Chag Sameach! Happy holidays! Happy New Year!

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