Foolishness in a time of drought

South Africa is going through the worst drought since such things have been recorded. Tens of thousands of livestock have died, crops and fields are dried up across the country, water restrictions are commonplace and there are threats around the possibility of water-shedding. And, most scarily, it looks like it’s going to get worse as the dry winter season approaches.

In times like this, rational heads are needed. Amid the crisis, cool heads are needed. This is why an advert in today’s newspapers is reckless and, dare I say, foolish. It’s an advert that absolutely makes my blood boil.

Photo 2016-05-02, 09 16 58 (1)
An advert in today’s The Mercury newspaper, placed (presumably) by the uMhlathuze municipality.

The municipality could not be sending out a more contradictory message. You must “play your part” by fixing and reporting leaks and burst pipes, but “it’s now beyond our control” and “only rain could save us“. What the municipality is saying, basically, is that you should save water, but it doesn’t really matter because we’re screwed anyway unless it rains. And this from a municipality that is one of the hardest hit by the ongoing drought.

It is a straight-up DANGEROUS message to be giving out.

And it’s a message that goes against everything the KwaZulu-Natal government has been saying.

“We are heading for the tough times ahead and we require the cooperation of every stakeholder and community member in KwaZulu-Natal. We are strengthening efforts to mitigate the impact of water shortages but the reality is that the demand is increasing every day as our water sources decrease”

– KZN Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube, in a statement issued on April 21, 2016.

If you think I’m over-stating this and being overly dramatic, you’d be wrong. At a time like this, when the country is in a crisis [five of the nine provinces have been declared drought disaster areas], there is no space at all for foolish mixed-messages.

I hope action is taken over the advert, but I doubt it.



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