“No news is good news” is a phrase that goes back to the 1640’s and is an adaptation of James 1st of England’s alleged phrase of “no news is better than evil news”.
In South Africa today neither phrase is appropriate, as every day the lack of communication, or rather lack of accurate and truthful news are causes for concern.
It is said that great leadership is built on the art of communication.
Communication has developed in the last 15 years in a way that nobody could have foreseen. The Internet combined with cellphone technology has spawned platforms where the public can communicate instantly to others on multiple devices, computers, pads and cellphones. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Skype etc provide exceptional instant communication for everyone.
Both Eskom and government have failed to turn modern communication to advantage, other than to spread false news and facts, as well to constantly avoid answering the question.
Scandals are met with commissions of inquiry, along with gardening leave for disgraced or temporarily removed executives and key bureaucrats. Almost always this results in continuation of full pay most of the time, and provides the excuse for not answering key questions.
One of the latest examples, the Chief Financial Officer of Eskom, Mr Singh who authorized single handedly around R1,6billion and a further R475million in relation to the Gupta’s acquisition of Tegeta/Optimum, neatly side stepped journalists’ questions at Eskom’s annual results press conference, with a response that he would provide a full report in 2 weeks to explain his 5 trips to Dubai, paid for by the Gupta’s.
The unwritten policy of protecting each other’s backs did not result in him being instantly suspended, let alone without pay. His suspension from Eskom only resulted a few days later from pressure from the banks forcing the new board’s hand. No doubt this this will enable him (Singh) to further side step a response in that he is not allowed to talk to the press.
Sadly, this is a repetitive story with Molefe, Koko, Ngubane, Mjane, all skirting their individual issues, adding to the pile of ongoing corruption.
Modern communication enables all and sundry to remark on these issues that hit the spotlight. Whether it be a Facebook blog like this, or comments or opinions in on line media, the public have been given a voice, and those voices collectively can change the course of history.
The Arab spring revolts are an example of overthrowing an oppressive regime, and in South Africa the public will be able to express their vote at the ballot box. The municipal elections, a year ago was just such an example.
The last 12 months has also witnessed extraordinary growth in false facts and propaganda across the world.
In Europe, Brexit has changed the course of history for Europe. Votes were cast on the basis of lies about the National Health Service (NHS) and of refugees from Syria taking jobs.
In the USA the election of Trump was based on populism of ‘Making America Great Again’, when it was already sitting with the lowest unemployment rates for decades. Unsurprisingly the promises of new healthcare, tax reforms that actually will benefit the rich to the detriment of the poor, are flailing along with the unrealistic nonsense of building a wall between Mexico and the USA. Victims of bad communication continue with 3 press secretaries falling in less than 3 months.
Back to the UK again and a general election where a projected landslide resulted in a hung parliament or a coalition, which came on the back of spin and populist policies (Jeremy Corbyn) that are easy to promote but difficult to implement.
In South Africa the damage created by Bell Pottinger on behalf Veribo, (a PR company in Tel Aviv contracted by Oakbay and the Gupta family) has raised the temperature of racism and intolerance, employing ‘a hateful and divisive campaign to divide South Africa along the lines of race’. The exceptional work of Madiba uniting South Africa is unraveling faster than one could imagine, all based on false news.
As for Eskom, their performance is exceptional in only a couple of years back they were flooding the market with news and updates over load shedding, which were frequently discredited within minutes, to going to the opposite extreme of almost complete silence accompanied by lies and spin, even believing that an 88% fall in profits is a good result.
One of the two largest challenges facing the planet today is awash with false facts and deliberate miscommunication. Climate change can become a boring subject but its denial is based on ignorance or stupidity or both combined with spurious reports generated and funded by companies with vested self-interest in carbon based fuels.
When the disasters hit, storms and droughts are quickly forgotten, but for South Africa the threat of running out of water in the Western Cape on a constant basis will become a reality sooner or later and is projected to become the new norm. Weather patterns are changing, and forecasts for a drier Mediterranean climate are projected until at least 2050.
At the same time government and Eskom spew out more false facts about renewables, claiming them to be more expensive than coal fired electricity. On ‘past their sell by date’ power stations that is correct, but going forward on new power stations renewables will be far cheaper.
Mrs Browne as the Minister in charge of Eskom, having claimed that coal and nuclear is cheaper than renewables (more false facts) has at least admitted that the least cost options for energy should be the route pursued.
Sadly for South Africa, even ignoring the never ending daily bad news that comes out as a result of hijacked email communications, the public can no longer trust any communications coming out of the government, their ministries or the parastatals they own.
Whether it is Eskom, SASSA, Transnet, Denel, SAA, or any of the others, we are all forced to live with bad communication out of the people that are meant to govern or provide a service.
James 1st ‘s comment “no news is better than evil news”, couldn’t be more apt.
The Hive is a sculpture in Kew Gardens, where technology has enabled the public to hear and experience the communication of bees working within a hive. Both lights and noise demonstrate the constant drone of bees working together, collecting pollen and serving the queen, as well as pollinating plants. It is almost the opposite of South African communication.
Ubersolar is a renewable energy company manufacturing solar water heating systems in South Africa. The technology enables consumers to save both money and electricity, reducing carbon emissions and benefitting climate change mitigation. We offer the best investment to reward of any systems available.GET a QUOTE