Water shifting another example of SA kicking the can down the road

Moving water from where there is little to where there is less is an interim measure to address an avoidable problem.


Remember back in the pre-Covid days when we laughed at Cape Town because they realised they hadn’t rain danced hard enough and the gods didn’t favour them so they were punished with drought? We heard of their day zero plans and dispersing of water tankers and restrictions and then went to go wash our cars with that lovely Vaal Dam water. Those of us with Hartbeespoort privileges ignored our hyacinth issue and went fishing. All was well in the land that wasn’t Helenbabwe but until now, you’ve probably forgotten all about that. Why? Because the issue was planned out and…

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Remember back in the pre-Covid days when we laughed at Cape Town because they realised they hadn’t rain danced hard enough and the gods didn’t favour them so they were punished with drought?

We heard of their day zero plans and dispersing of water tankers and restrictions and then went to go wash our cars with that lovely Vaal Dam water. Those of us with Hartbeespoort privileges ignored our hyacinth issue and went fishing. All was well in the land that wasn’t Helenbabwe but until now, you’ve probably forgotten all about that.

Why? Because the issue was planned out and resolved. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could say the same about electricity? Load shedding was with us before the water crisis and remains with us amidst a revolving door reserved for CEOs, ministers and more ministers. How’s that electricity minister doing by the way?

ALSO READ: Ntshavheni scolds absent Joburg mayor Gwamanda over Gauteng’s water crisis

South Africa has faced so many issues of late and some of them have been dealt with pretty well; our internet has become considerably cheaper and more accessible over the last few years and we’ve managed to put a big dent in the HIV infection rate. They may not seem like the biggest wins in the context of corruption, education, GBV and social cohesion but they do tell us that planning and long-term thinking is key. Oh and, for the love of efficiency, we don’t need another useless committee but hey, we’re getting one for GBV so at least there’s that.

So now that Gauteng is having a little whoopsie with their water reserves, it may be time to ask if “water shifting” is a brilliant idea. Of course it is – otherwise some people just wouldn’t have water and that’s considered a human right.

Is this bright spark of an idea to move water from where there is little to where there is less something that could have been avoided? Of course! Gauteng hasn’t had droughts that caused us to discuss a day zero coming to eGoli.

ALSO READ: SA’s problems are being ‘solved’ by nursery school games – and here’s proof

Sure, it’s an interim measure to address an avoidable problem. What does interim mean anyway? In a country plagued with problems, we need to fix one and then look at the next thing.

Much like how we’ve institutionalised inefficient private power generation and created entire industries to do the work of the police, now we’re told to deal with a broken water system in the most South African way possible.

It’s not exactly… nice. Especially since we’re dealing with an interim solution with no targets, plan beyond the interim plan and seemingly no intention of fixing the underlying problems.

What’s concerning is that if it comes down to moving water from one place to another, somebody is going to have a lovely trucking contract. Somebody else is going to have a project planning contract and eventually a lot of people will be very unhappy if and when the water crisis is sorted. I imagine already there are a few people importing batteries who don’t want Eskom to fix its problems.

South Africa’s big issue is kicking the can down the road. It’s why we solve so little. It’s why we don’t realise our potential. It’s why we’re crumbling under state debt. I may as well add, it’s why the coolest thing we have is sweet names for solutions to unnecessary problems. That and a whole lot of things named after the Mandelas.

Taking bets… will we still be dealing with water shifting after Bafana Bafana win the World Cup?

ALSO READ: Where is water going? A tug-of-war between authorities

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