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Article (SEPTEMBER 2023)

South Africa’s Desperate Fight for Survival: The Shocking Truth About Our Infrastructure Crisis

Why South Africa’s Infrastructure is Being Cannibalized, and How We Can Stop It.

If you stop eating for a day you get really hungry. Two day you start to burn fat reserves. Day three and four your body starts to ‘eat’ muscle and after a week some of your organs are cannibalized as your body’s final attempt to buy just a little more time in the hope that circumstances change. If they don’t, unfortunately shrivelled, pale and delirious you die.

South Africa’s infrastructure being stolen is a final phase for survival. Our economy and citizens are starving. People are stealing because they are desperate to survive and there is simply no other way to put food on the table. Traffic robots and street lamp posts are uprooted and sold for scrap. Water pipes are ripped out of the ground or your walls at home, as was the case for me in Johannesburg. Telecommunication, electricity and transport infrastructure all suffer similar fates. Solar panels are the latest victims to our country’s self-digestion. It has been estimated that the cost of repairs from vandalism in South Africa amounts to R47 billion each year, but the ripple effect and ramifications thereof would be in the hundreds of billions. Some reports confirm half of our infrastructure is not fit for purpose. Food security is at risk. Drinking water is at risk. Waste management is in decline.
Some things should not be laughed about or ever accepted. South Africa is in a life threatening position. ‘Essential service failure’ is our reality and we do not treat it with the level of severity and panic it actually deserves. We have bamboozled ourselves.
It’s impossible to put food on the table with no work. We cannot trade when our roads, rails and ports are in decay. What money we have allocated to infrastructure is mismanaged or lost to corruption. Those charged with ‘care’ either do not, or are incapable of. Indonesia was in a similar position but managed to turn itself around. How can we do the same before our country eats its last kidney?

I do not believe the government of 2023 is the solution and looking to them for help would be illogical, and not because it isn’t their job to assist, but because of their horrific track record. It’s like believing a fish will one day fly. No, we need to look to corporates and communities. While this is an unfair burden on us all it is what needs to happen. The only City which has a productive and delivering infrastructure plan right now is the City of Cape Town. This is a very hard pill for the ANC to swallow and they will do whatever they can to shift blame. The ANC could never admit failure, and in absence of solutions, their focus is on posturing for the 2024 elections. If you have not read my article on the 2024 National Elections please do, it covers some predictions on results, being active citizens and the era of coalition governments. Coalition governments can be a positive force for infrastructure recovery. Once the ANC loses majority, cadre employment will dwindle, and with that the favour and ‘brought’ loyalty for the ruling party will diminish.

We need to treat this situation as the crisis it is. Capital deployment needs to be prioritised. Red tape needs to be rationalised and at the same time a ‘watch dog and oversight’ team established. An expedited and aggressive legislative plan (backed by specialized law enforcement) to tackle ‘black market materials’ stolen from infrastructure must be implemented.

A great deal of private and corporate collaboration needs to be nurtured, with this and some political and labour stability, investment will follow. Trade and Labour unions need to become constructive in the future because our country will have less government positions, dwindling employment opportunities at mines and a shift towards other forms of public transport. If they don’t, they will become obsolete. South Africa can solve most of its challenges once it resolves its failed infrastructure. Poor economic growth, a just energy transition, social inequality and divide, and our health and education sectors will all become so much easier to tackle. We can then get on track with our advancements of technological objectives which are being hindered because of the crisis we are in. Until then people will cannibalise what remains and we all know how that can end.

Articles by Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline


Who is Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline?

Jean-Pierre is a South African Serial Entrepreneur, Published Author and Change Champion who has worked in over 300 types of industries in some capacity or another. His own online businesses have generated millions of Rands and involved sectors including Law, Web & App Development, Events & Entertainment, Property, Technical Services, Media and Tourism.
He has travelled to over 50 cities World-Wide, and is extremely active as a Business and Environmental Technologist.
Jean-Pierre is often asked to be a Guest Speaker on any variety of the many subjects he continuously studies and writes about. 


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