The Blame Game

OK. Here goes. I rarely do “opinion” posts on the blog any more because there’s rarely anything I feel strongly enough about to be bothered to wade through mentions on Twitter, comments on here, insults flung at me on my journey to and from work and hate mail delivered to my home address three months later via the SAPO.

But I feel I need to say something.

I’ve been  watching the Cape Town water crisis with interest for a long while now. I’ve blogged about it an awful lot. And while “crisis” seemed a strong word 25 months ago when water restrictions were first introduced, we’re now staring down the barrel of a rather terrifying gun, with fewer than 100 days left until Day Zero – the day the taps will be turned off.

An entire city of 4 MILLION residents is going to run out of water in just 3 months time. And yet, a quick glance at the City’s Water Dashboard gives us this picture:

What, if I may be so bold, the actual fandango?

Just 39% of residents are using fewer than 87l water per person per day. That’s frankly appalling, and it shows a huge disregard and/or misunderstanding for the gravity of the situation.

You think that showering with a bucket is inconvenient? (It can be, I agree.)

But when Day Zero arrives:
There will be no water in your home. None.
Literally nothing will come out of your taps.

Want water? Go to one of the ±200 city-wide collection points and queue for it. 25 litres per person per day.
25 litres of water weighs 25kg, by the way. Transport that, mate. Every single day.

Businesses will be forced to close.
Closed business = no income = staff being laid off.
Schools won’t be able to open, creating a childcare nightmare for parents, and an educational nightmare for schools and students.

And Day Zero won’t last a day. The biggest misnomer since Pussy Galore, right there. Day Zero is when it starts.
Brace yourself for 3-6 months of no water supply.

Sadly, if scare tactics – or “the truth” as most people call it – worked, we’d already be doing a lot better than we are.

But I digress. This paragraph from David Olivier’s independent report on the current crisis has stuck with me:

Blame shifting, fault finding and panic are usual reactions to water crises all over the world. Some anxiety is good, as it motivates water saving, but blame shifting actually pushes responsibility away, and causes water wastage. The best attitude Cape Town’s people can adopt is for every person to do their best, together.

(emphasis by me)

This isn’t a political post. Absolutely not. I have no party axe to grind. But it does seem to me that there is a blame culture which has flourished in recent weeks. People saying that this water crisis has been poorly-managed by the City.

My personal feeling is that they’ve done ok considering the lack of any precedent here and the 20/20 hindsight that their detractors are blessed with. I think any city, any government, any party would have struggled with the challenge of a 1 in 1000 climatic event:

And I’m always intrigued to hear what the critics would have done differently.

But those are just my thoughts. Other opinions are available.
And, as I’m about to point out, none of that actually matters anyway.

I think David is absolutely right: this blame game has given people a convenient scapegoat which in turn has led to them choosing to ignore what, in this situation, are very clearly their social responsibilities.

So here’s my plan.

Blame and anger don’t contribute to our water supply. That’s not how the water supply works.

You can’t drink outrage.

If you want to stick it to Patricia de Lille, the City, the DA, the Provincial Government, the National Government or whomsoever, then next time your opportunity to vote comes around, you must do just that.
That’s how democracy works. Literally, the power of the people.

(Remember to choose wisely, just in case this happens again.)

But attempting to spite any or all of those individuals or bodies by refusing to cut down on your water usage is misguided and isn’t going to help anyone. Even yourself.

Spoiler alert:
Your political affiliations and opinions are not an excuse to not save water.

It’s time (it was time a long while back, actually) to put on your big boy panties, take a step back (and up) and choose to overlook the petty politics right now.
Deal with stuff that later.

Right now, collectively, we need to reach out to that missing two-thirds of residents who are still using too much water – the Day Zero denialists, the monied individuals in Bishopscourt, the Observatory anarchists, the tannies in Pinelands with their precious lawns, that oke in Durbanville that just doesn’t care – and rein them in. And if they want to moan all over the newspapers and social media and and and… about us doing it, well they must knock themselves out.
Just as long as they’re saving water while they’re doing it. Because if they don’t come to the party, we’re very definitely doomed.

I’m aware that this is pie in the sky thinking. I’m aware that if people actually cared about this situation, they’d be saving already. But just imagine if the residents worked with the City instead of pointlessly fighting the system (“pointlessly” because as I’ve pointed out – using water just because you hate the DA is a recipe for disaster), fiddling as Rome burns.

If you’re one of those individuals I’ve mentioned above, you’ve probably not read this far. But on the off-chance that you have, for the good of everyone: rich, poor, black, white, young and old please can you please start saving some water?

We need to pull together here. Or we’re all massively, massively buggered.

 

(Don’t @ me.)

Recent politics

Our Dear Leader Jacob Zuma survived another vote of no confidence at the ANC NEC this weekend, despite the conveniently timed release of several (or more) emails detailing how his chums in the Gupta family are essentially pulling the strings that make the country work.

And yet, the important guys in the top echelons of his party still voted to keep him. And you realise that when they do that in a democratic environment (which is what the ANC NEC supposedly is) then the problem is with the party, not the president.

But let’s watch as those dissenters all fall dutifully in line again after this thinly-veiled threat:

Meanwhile, the ex-leader of the official opposition and Lord High Empress of the Western Cape, with this HUGE open goal to aim at, is fighting with her boss about whether she can stay on for another term, given the alleged damage that she is causing to the party.

A local mayor wasted time praying for rain last Thursday.

How could you have missed that Donald Trump has been being Donald Trump internationally this week?

And in the UK, Labour comedy duo Abbott and Corbstello refuse to condemn terrorist acts from the 1980s, blame UK foreign policy for the Manchester attack, went to a “poignant” ceremony honouring terrorists from the 1970s and tell us that “the terrorists will not prevail” while… er… planning to radically alter UK foreign policy because of terrorism.

Thus – with a language warning in hand – please see this cartoon which illustrates the approach that many people will be taking towards the subject of politics today (and for the foreseeable future).

Really. Life would be so much more pleasant if we didn’t have to worry about these people who have been elected to serve us and whose salaries our taxes pay.

Yes, let’s change the rules this time…

…just for the sake of it.

Incoming all over your Facebook (if you have UK contacts on there, at least) – this:

Fullscreen capture 2016-07-12 085133 AM.bmp

And that’s because there’s been a change in the leadership of the governing party, and the leader of the governing party also holds the post of Prime Minister, thus there has been/will be, any time real soon just now, a change in Prime Minister.

People whose favoured party isn’t the governing party aren’t very happy about this because… well, because they’re just not very happy. Much like they weren’t happy about the result of the EU referendum vote, which didn’t go the way they wanted it to, or the result of last year’s general election, which they lost, they’re wanting to move the goalposts.

The online petition is simply a 21st Century version of the lynch mob. [link]

Simply, they’re calling for the rules to be changed because the current outcome doesn’t suit them.

And is there precedent for this sort of thing?
Well yes, there is. After all, Gordon Brown (2007), John Major (1990), James Callaghan (1976), Alec Douglas-Home (1963), Harold MacMillan (1957), Anthony Eden (1955), Winston Churchill (1940), Neville Chamberlain (1937), Stanley Baldwin (1923), David Lloyd George (1916), Herbert Asquith (1908), Henry Campbell-Bannerman (1905) and Arthur Balfour (1902) were all appointed without a general election.

But those 13 names count for nothing now, because (possibly without the exception of Gordon Brown), there were no online petitions when they took the job. And there was no issue with Gordon Brown getting the job because firstly, the people who opposed him weren’t the sort to whine about everything just because it doesn’t fit their agenda, and secondly, it was just nice to get rid of Tony Blair.

And when Gordon Brown followed the example of Balfour, Asquith et al. and said that he wasn’t calling a general election, he made Labour’s bed. They were quite happy to lie in it back then, shame the mattress seems to have got a bit lumpy all of a sudden now, hey?

Please understand that I’m not saying that nothing must ever change. That’s not a very flexible, constructive or progressive way of handling things. But there has to be a better reason for changing things than “I just don’t like it”.

That said, I’m looking forward to taking exactly that approach with football games in the upcoming season. Each time Sheffield United lose (it’s ok, I’m old enough now to realise that it will happen), I’ll start an online petition to get the rules on winning changed. I sense promotion in our near future; that is until one of the other teams complains about the promotion rules and launches an online petition.

69390402

But we’re supposed to be grown up now. We’re supposed to understand that not everything will go the way we want it to, and that we need to be able to deal with difficulties that life throws at us.
We can’t keep whinging and whining like spoilt tween brats, just because we don’t always get our own way.

Or can you?

Conspiracy Theories

I’ve gone off John Oliver a bit of late. If he’s trying to be a comedian, then we’re all good. But if he wants to be taken seriously as a political commentator – something that he seems to want to achieve – then he needs to be a little more consistent in telling us what we should be thinking.

But that’s another story for another post.

Happily for the purposes of your blog reading experience today, this clip is all about the funnies:

The more you trawl the internet (and I actually finished reading the whole thing a few months back now, so I’m a bit of an expert), the more outlandish the conspiracy theories you find, and – perhaps more worryingly – the more people you find supporting them.

This the day after April Fools, the only day where people actually read the mainstream media with any degree of cynicism…

Honestly, wake up, sheeple!

Team with dreadful record still has much support

For many, this weekend was the final straw. Yet another disastrous performance – letting the country down when we were all so full of hope – was just too much. There’s been repeated harsh (and entirely justified) public criticism – “useless” and “losers” just a couple of the words bandied around – but it merely seems to fall on deaf ears.

bf

It wasn’t the first time, either. It sometimes seems like we’re lurching from one poor performance, riddled with errors and incompetence, to the next.
For some, the problem is obvious: they choose to blame the man in charge, but I don’t think it’s necessarily that cut and dried. In my mind, the performance of the whole lot of them has been repeatedly calamitous. Fairly regularly, it’s actually been embarrassing for the country. You’d be excused for thinking that maybe they’re simply not up to the job in hand, and yet they’re highly paid and highly respected. How can this be?

It’s all so different to those glory days back in the mid-90’s. Back then – yes, perhaps under better management – things were so much better and the achievements were clearly there for all to see. Since then, however, while there have been occasional moments of triumph, it’s mainly been a steady downhill and 2014 shows no signs of bucking that trend. It’s actually rather sad.

And yet, there remains a huge level of support for these guys. Perhaps it’s because the population feels there’s no other team that is worthy of their support, or perhaps it’s habit, because they’ve just never supported anyone else.

But yes, the ANC will still win the elections again this year.
Incredible.