Tumelo waga Dibakwane
Main photo: Withered vines mean no wine harvest
Despite the fact that Mpumalanga, the entire country and across-border neighbours, would apparently not see El Nino this summer, drought is already taking its toll. Dam levels are falling and the government is calling for water restrictions.
Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe are in an even worse position than South Africa (SA) with the Kariba Dam only 17% full as opposed to 2018’s 74%. The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), which manages the dam, had not updated levels since end of last month. But as always in good old SA, the Minister of Water Affairs, Lindiwe Sisulu, said, “There is no need to panic.”At the same time she urged consumers to curb their consumption ahead of what is termed a long and dry season.
Dam levels had dropped alarming in every province compared to the same period last year. The question analysts is asking is if the situation is because of mismanagement. While the Western Cape had seen dam levels rise, the rest of the country is either low on water or totally dry.
Should the situation not improve, agriculture, a main contributor to the country’s coffers, would suffer. In turn, that would mean more expensive food for cash-strapped South Africans. It is said that the maize harvest, the staple food of the poor, would barely meet the required minimum tonnage to feed the rising number of people in SA. It was too dry to plant.
However, according to the SA Weather Bureau, rain forecasts for mid-summer do look promising, but it could be too late for planting. In Mpumalanga, the planting season had just been launched. It could be not only the winter of our discontent, but a long, dry and harsh summer. It would be hazardous for the limping economy.
The hottest regions in the country are the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga with the mercury rising to 48 degrees and above.