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Day Zero looms for Nelson Mandela Metro and surrounding areas
21 May 2020, 6:01 PM

Besides fighting the spread of the COVID-19, Nelson Mandela Bay is also facing a fight against a looming Day Zero regarding the water supply. The supply dams have an average capacity of 22% and there is no rain forecast for the near future. There is just over a month’s supply of water left.

Weather experts say rainfall alone is not going to change the situation. It is a serious water crisis, which will not be solved by one day, a month or season’s rainfall.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro is in the grips of a serious hydrological drought, which means that the demand for water is fast exceeding the amount of water that is stored.

The last significant rainfall was in September 2018. A spokesperson for the SA Weather Services in Port Elizabeth, Garth Sampson, says people must harvest water where possible and use it sparingly.

“Save water like day zero will occur next week. We cannot be assured that big rain will come in the next few months or even next year. It is only a forecast. However there are some tell tales, warnings and signs that it could be a big rain on the horizon, but when is the million-dollar question. So just as you are going to be prepared for day zero coming shortly, also be prepared for the big rain coming and make sure you take the necessary precautions when that rain is forecast.”

Weather is cyclical by nature and this is being foretold through our written history. As the bible states, we will have seven abundant years followed by seven lean years.

Weather patterns in Eastern Cape 

This is most prevalent in the Eastern Cape as the early settlers first noted that citrus farms were flooded after a prolonged drought. The province is either in the grip of a drought or a flood at any given time. In other words, the abnormal is normal for the Eastern Cape.

Sampson says the outlook for the season looks quite good. “The outlook for winter is for normal to above-normal rainfall. However, we have not seen this with the continued new trend of below-normal from March through to April and even in May, we have hardly seen any rainfall. So, if the forecast is correct, we would need some fireworks before the end of winter. In other words, we would need one large event to get that rainfall total up. We’ll have to wait and see if this occurs and if the seasonal forecast is going to be correct.”

Water supply in the Metro

Chief Executive Officer of the Gamtoos Irrigation Board, Rienette Colesky, says the biggest supply dam for the Nelson Mandela Metro and the agricultural sector in the Gamtoos Valley, the Kouga Dam stands at less than 10% capacity.

The allocation of water this year was cut by 15% to all water users. It is expected that with no flood, water allocations will be cut even more when the new water year starts at the end of next month.

“Kouga Dam at 9.4%, we cannot expect a very high allocation for the new water year which starts on the 1st of July. Kouga Dam is the only resource for agricultural users in the Gamtoos valley, whereas the metro has other resources they can use. All the resources on the Western side of the metro are under severe stress, currently. It includes Kouga, Churchill and Mpofu dams. There are basically three agri users in the valley – citrus, cash crops and dairy farming. All of them will be under severe pressure in the new year to make a living.”

Garth Sampson advises that water users must harvest water where possible, use it sparingly, and be prepared for the worst, either way.

Multiple water leaks in Nelson Mandela Bay have been one of the major contributors of water losses in the Bay.


Restructuring process at Eskom under way: De Ruyter
21 May 2020, 5:09 PM

Eskom Chief Executive Officer, Andre de Ruyter says the restructuring process at Eskom is still underway. However, the ‘distribution’ side of the business is proving to be complex and will need more work.

De Ruyter says the complexity of the distribution business stems from the fact that municipalities are also distributors of electricity, with their own systems in place.

He says proper governance structures also need to be defined in the restructuring plan to ensure appropriate levels of accountability. De Ruyter says the Chief Restructuring Officer’s report is yet to be submitted to the government.

Load shedding expected in coming days 

Eskom has projected three days of load shedding during winter due to the vulnerability of the system. Ruyter says the lockdown has delayed the company’s plans to implement its reliability maintenance. He says the risk of load shedding remains high over the next 18 months, while the company’s maintenance program is scheduled to kick off from 1 July.

De Ruyter says Eskom has had 21 cases of COVID-19 infections thus far, with most cases recorded in the Western Cape.

Below is a breakdown of COVID-19 stats in SA: 



Impact of load shedding on Eskom finances 

The CEO says Eskom will not be seeking further government bailouts at this stage and is developing a plan to improve its balance sheet. This includes a number of cost-cutting measures and improvements to the generation system.

De Ruyter says Eskom’s debt still remains high at R450 billion and the company is still not able to generate enough revenue to meet its debt servicing costs.

De Ruyter emphasised that load shedding had a major cost implication for the company as well as the economy. Eskom has thus far received R23 billion of the R69 billion government bailout, to be released over a three year period.

30 more COVID-19-related deaths in SA
21 May 2020, 3:41 PM

The number of COVID-19 deaths in South Africa has increased by 30, bringing the total number to 369. The Western Cape still has the highest number of deaths with 265.



“We wish to express our condolences to the loved ones of the deceased and thank the healthcare workers who treated these patients,” says the Ministry of Health in a statement.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the country now stands at 19 137. The Western Cape accounts for 63.5% of the total number of cases, followed by Gauteng at 12.8%.

A total of 18 572  new tests have been conducted.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says over half a million people in South Africa have been tested and 11 million others screened.

The number of cases is expected to rise as the Grades 7 and 12  learners prepare to head back to school in June.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga made the announcement earlier this week.


Dog and cat get along during lockdown
20 May 2020, 9:48 PM

As millions of South Africans find themselves in close confines day after day, there could also be an upside. Families might have grown closer as parents spend more quality time with each other and their children.

But it is not only humans that are in what might seem like a never-ending lockdown. Household pets also had to learn to get along.   

In the video below, a young cat, Henry and German Shepard, Rudi learn to co-exist peacefully: 



Residents in Mbuzini in fear, concerned about lack of border control amid COVID-19
20 May 2020, 9:32 PM

Residents in the Mbuzini village in Mpumalanga say the lack of border control in their area exposes them to the coronavirus because people cross illegally from Mozambique and Swaziland without being tested.

People from Mozambique who came over the border to sell alcohol in the area have also created another set of problems.

The Deputy-Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thabang Makwetla, visited the area to establish the facts on the ground before briefing his seniors in the COVID-19 National Command Council.

The Mbuzini village in Mpumalanga is uniquely positioned where South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland meet, but it also has 21 of the 78 positive COVID-19 cases in the province.

Residents say it is because the 780-kilometre border is not properly maintained and people from the neighbouring countries cross daily into South Africa without being tested or screened.

“I’m afraid because we all get infected by these diseases. So, we don’t want people from Mozambique and Swaziland to come to this country,” says one resident.

While the delegation was at the village with two army choppers clearly visible, you could see in a distance people crossing from Mozambique into South Africa without seemingly afraid of being caught.

High levels of illicit trade of alcohol have also recently been brought over the border, allegedly with the help of soldiers that were deployed to protect the border – after South Africa was locked down and the sale of alcohol banned.

“Even the soldiers here, they have corruption soldiers and people have connections. So, soldiers help people to transport illegal things,” says another residents.

Deputy-Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thabang Makwetla, says he is aware of the allegations and actions have already been taken.

“The Defence Force acted on it even where … and as you have heard in the report presented, there were already results arising out of what we were told and where to go. Even including weaknesses within our own organisation members where there are allegations of being involved or in cahoots with these smugglers. We have actually arrested some of our members for that.”

The lack of control at the particular point where the three countries meet has been an issue for several years. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic might just be the momentum to get the three countries around a table to discuss the matter as it has not yet been done.

“We have not done it at this point in relation to collectively dealing with movement across the border and it is something that I am certainly going to elevate after this visit here.”

The community of Mbuzini says they want an official border post to be erected to monitor the movement across the border.

Below are the latest COVID-19 stats:





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