5 Things that frustrate South Africans in 2009
I haven’t ranted much on this blog in the past few months so I think it’s high time to get the frustrations that plague me (and most South Africans in my opinion) off my chest. 2009 has been an interesting year. Jacob Zuma was elected as next president of South Africa. Thusfar he has proven to be not too bad (besides pre-election fears from opposition parties). The Springboks have proved themselves to be the best rugby team in the world by winning a series against the British and Irish Lions and the Tri-Nations. The Vodacom Bulls beat the Chiefs in the Super 14 final and the Free State in the Currie Cup final proving themselves to be the best domestic rugby team in South Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. All positive (well not positive if you support a different South African domestic rugby team).
Besides this there have been some frustrations in South Africa. Today I will be covering the 5 different topics (in my opinion) which have frustrated (and is still frustrating) most South Africans this year.
High Telecommunications Costs: South Africa is a developing country. We might not be the fastest in this category but things are happening. Development could go a lot faster if we didn’t have to pay so much to phone each other or to use the internet. A lot of critics point the finger to Telkom and the mobile phone networks in South Africa. Others blame the South African government for not distancing itself from Telkom or for not intervening in the issue in a positive manner. In my opinion this industry is way too regulated for a developed country. Pressure by elements of South African society to lower interconnection fees between cell phone networks and Telkom was a step in the right direction but no compromise has been reached (due to all parties being too greedy in my opinion). Even though we have a SNO (Second Network Operator) no real cost cuts have been introduced for internet usage in South Africa. It’s ridiculous how much we pay for using the internet in this country. In order for South Africa to develop faster we need cheaper telecommunications costs and more competition. Cheaper call and usage costs will mean more customers and more jobs, plain and simple. What is so difficult to understand about that? If this is ever resolved this will definately reduce my stress level and put a permanent smile on my face. This issue really needs attention.
Julius Malema: For those of you who don’t know, he’s the current Youth League Leader of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa. Julius Malema has been covered extensively in the South African media in 2009. He’s made various comments on things happening in South African society. South African Bank Nedbank withdrew their sponsorship of Athletics South Africa earlier in 2009 after the whole Caster Semenya debacle. When questioned about his opinion on Caster Semenya being a hermaphrodite he said “Hermaphrodite, what is that? Somebody tell me, what is hermaphrodite in Pedi? There’s no such thing, hermaphrodite, in Pedi. So don’t impose your hermaphrodite concepts on us.” There is word for that in Pedi: “Ntonankatshadi”. Malema urged the nation to close their accounts at the bank to pressure them into re-instating their sponsorship. Absolutely ridiculous. This is not the only comment he’s made but I’m sure that a huge percentage of the South African population is tired of his exploits. What fascinates me is that he has been named as a possible future leader of the ANC by South African president Jacob Zuma. On the flipside, South Africans have the right to freedom of speech so everyone is entitled to his / her opinion, even Julius Malema.
The Choke Mentality of the South African Cricket Team / Proteas: South Africa hosted the ICC Champions Trophy tournament in 2009 but we knocked out before they could reach the semi-final. This is not the first time that the Proteas have “choked” in big cricket tournaments. Most South African cricket fans will also recall the incident in the 1999 Cricket World Cup in England against Australia and the Duckworth Lewis disaster of the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa against Sri Lanka. Before the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy South Africa was ranked as the number 1 Cricket team in the world. It’s sad that we “choke” in big matches. In my opinion the Proteas should just relax, have fun (it’s a game afterall) and keep their composure. Hopefully they will learn their lesson before the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Let’s hope this happens because I’m sick of hearing that we “choke”.
Traffic: Most South Africans living in 2010 FIFA World Cup host cities, especially Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Pretoria will agree with me on this one. In Gauteng Province many highways, turn-offs and main roads are being upgraded to handle the influx of tourists in 2010 and the increased amount traffic in the province. This is causing major disruptions in the traffic flow. Luckily I’m still using public transport. On a bad day it can take a motorist between 2.5 – 3 hours to travel 50 km between Pretoria and Johannesburg. More than 400,000 cars travel between these 2 cities every day in South Africa. Though traffic volumes are much lower in other cities where construction is ongoing I’m told that traffic in cities like Durban and Cape Town is just as disrupted. When all the construction projects are finished traffic flow promises to be much better on South African metropolitan roads, so at least theres hope for the future. South African motorists should just be patient and suck it up for now. The completion of the Gautrain between Johannesburg and Pretoria should reduce traffic volumes when it’s finally completed.
Eskom Tarrif Hikes: This is probably one of the biggest issues in South Africa right now. Eskom, the South African electricity provider has already hiked up their rates by 34% in 2009. Now the utility is requesting 54% increases per year until 2012. Absolutely ridiculous. Luckily this has not been approved by the South African government. The whole of South Africa suffered from load shedding practices by Eskom in 2008. Some areas were without power for 2-4 hours a day. It was a very frustrating time for South Africans. Luckily South Africa has made it through this ordeal, but I’m questioning whether Eskom did this on purpose in order to justify their 34% tariff hike this year and future planned price hikes? 2009 has seen absolutely no load shedding (thank heavens). Were they planning this “False Flag Operation” before the load shedding commenced in 2008? If the proposed tariff increase goes through it will become practically impossible for businesses / households in South Africa (who are still recovering from the tail-end effect of the International Economic Crisis) to survive in the long run. The job creation process in South Africa will be dealt a heavy blow by this. Hopefully someone in government will have the common sense to deny them the proposed increase.