/ 9 February 2015

Looking on darkness? Fear not, the ANC has got this

The transfer of Eskom’s transmission assets appears to be a sticking point.
The transfer of Eskom’s transmission assets appears to be a sticking point.

Load shedding, water cuts, bus strikes and service delivery protests – not exactly the keywords of a country moving in the right direction is it?

If you’re blissfully on the fence, let’s throw in the rape of a minor, murder of the innocents and a bit of everyday racism to put you in the mood. Downgrades and the cost of living only deepen the gloom. 

Not to be presumptuous and speak on behalf of the nation like some of my peers, but it’s difficult to ignore the fact we’re a little uneasy to put it mildly. Maybe we’re always in the doldrums and our days consist of varying degrees of hardship to put up with. But let’s not be alarmist, or start whining like the official opposition, because everything is under control, the ANC has got this. Right? Our president went to Davos to secure investment for our infrastructure dream did he not? We hear he met with such economic powerhouses as New Zealand and the Netherlands. 

All our troubles would dissipate if we could just give ourselves another chance. 

We’ve never been a model society, but is this the best we can do? Are we being forced to live with disappointment and accept it – in the dark? I’m willing to bet you would get more people marching for the Goddamn rhinos than against government’s incompetence, because somehow rhino poaching has become the moral compass of the middle class. You can kill miners and minors but fuck with our rhinos and we’ll troll you to the grave. If you don’t believe me, read the comments. 

We can’t keep the lights on, because in our arrogance we neglected to plan. Now the smouldering cauldron that is peak hour traffic and darkened alleyways is threatening to boil over. Is it any wonder we’re killing each other on the roads and in dark areas? But don’t panic because we’ve got a schedule. We’ve got the app. Now, not only will our rulers deliver us into crisis, they will schedule that crisis for our convenience. So don’t be ungrateful.  

Trouble is my middle class posterior needs to be fed and clothed. If I miss Orange is the New Black I’m going to be pissed and someone is going to get a sternly worded e-mail from me – as soon as the power comes back on.  

Some people have real problems, my wife always says.  

You may have noticed that for millions of our compatriots this is just life on the front lines of existence, but we’d rather not face up to that omission in our current discourse. We’d rather not talk about the poor’s needs. We would much rather obsess over one man’s life of excess, and initiating ideological Je Suis battles than watch the desperate fight over the looted scraps left behind by frightened foreigners. 

Freedom never fed anyone – commerce, agriculture and progress did. We expect our government to lead us towards progress, to take us forward, or at the very least do what is mandatory. But don’t fear, the ruling party is … um … ruling. So much so that some clever blacks and whites on Twitter asked its leader to resign, but before he does, could he please just legalise weed.  

It’s tough being middle class when circumstances conspire to deprive you of basics such as running water and electricity. How are we expected to embrace our privilege when the lights could go out at any moment? Some of us will always have Maboneng – and a generator. 

The middle is uneasy, but every time it looks up another CEO of Eskom appears, another director-general is overseeing another mess and the same authorities are making different excuses. “We can’t provide water because we don’t have electricity, and by the way we don’t have enough water anyway, so whatevs.” 

Looking on Darkness indeed. Rest in peace André Brink. 

This time around the ANC has admitted to itself that it has failed its electorate. Its admission was not made public voluntarily. Honesty and truth must be leaked for us to remain informed – the right to be informed notwithstanding. That can’t be how a normal society functions, surely.  

Had it not been for video footage would we have cared more about the rape of yet another child or the racism that exists all across our country? Probably not. We’re too busy getting stuck in traffic to bother. Load shedding is that bridge too far. Running water and electricity are the thing that separates “us and them”, and heaven forbid we muddy those waters. We’d like to keep our privilege to ourselves thank you very much, and we will Instagram the hell out of it too. 

We expect our politicians to fail us, and when they ultimately do, we allow them to package and schedule our pain in bite-sized chunks as if it were some S&M parlour – only there is no safe word or reciprocity for the underdog.   

And why should the residents of Mohlakeng, Malamulele and Soweto lie down and accept their fate when the same rules don’t apply to our leaders?

I’ll retreat to my indifferent middle class life where my main concerns are the cost of education, the welfare of my family and oh yes, Eskom.  

The great unease has been with us for some time now, but we were told not to be unpatriotic and help. Is there an app for that?