A whole generation is growing up without ever knowing a time of uninterrupted power

On Monday, the Government Gazette finally published the A edition of its legal gazette from May 6, 2022 – that’s 10 days after it should have been published. Apparently, it doesn’t matter in the eyes of the law – and the Master of the High Court – as long as the date is the same as the day the companion announcement is published in a daily newspaper.

This is because the Government Printer, which publishes all the different gazettes every week, is experiencing ‘challenges’. The Government Gazette is responsible for the publication of laws, state of disaster regulations (remember the open toed shoes and Woolies chickens during lockdown?) and all manner of legal notices from deceased estates to administrators, auctions and sales in execution.

It’s a vital service and one everyone used to be able to rely on like clockwork – much like phoning the talking clock back in the 1980s. But it’s only one of many other challenges in this country, like the steady implosion of the public transport sector currently being illuminated by the single-handed crusade of Lorenzo Davids (@UrbanLo). There’s the silent death grip, as the Saturday Star reported last week, of massive fuel price hikes, record joblessness and the spiralling cost of living. 

And then there’s load shedding. A whole generation is growing up without ever knowing a time of uninterrupted power. People who have jobs are paying more to get to work, only to arrive late because they were stuck in traffic jams because the robots weren’t working. And when they get to the work, the power might go off, so they can’t do anything. Small and medium businesses are going to go the wall because of it.

We can barely afford to pay attention. The government can barely find the money to pay the grants that a third of all South Africans depend on every month – and pay for its over-paid, overstaffed and often grossly inefficient public service. But Nathi Mthethwa’s Sports, Arts and Culture department can find R22-million to fund a phallic symbol with a flag at the end that will be second only to North Korea’s version at “Peace Village” in the DMZ.

Mthethwa seems determined to take the piss.

At Stellenbosch though it isn’t metaphorical. Babalo Ndwayana woke up at 4am last Sunday to see Theuns du Toit pissing all over his desk. Thankfully he filmed him instead of taking a baseball bat to his head. 

It’s a harsh wake up call for the rest of the country that we obviously haven’t travelled too far past the University of the Free State’s infamous Reitz hostel video in 2007 in which black staff were filmed eating a meal which white students had peed on.

Nothing’s changed. Not even the talking clock. Telkom still runs it today in a world of smart phones and wearables. Try it. Phone 1026. “Wanneer u die sein hoor, is dit… When you hear the signal, it will be…” 

It tells you the time, but it doesn’t tell you the date. That’s because we’re stuck in a perpetual Groundhog Day of ‘challenges’.

Originally published in Saturday Star on 21 May 2022.