Number 175

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December 31st, 2009


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Greetings everyone!  And a special welcome to all the new subscribers!  Why not ask your email contacts if they don't want to subscribe as well?

New subscribers and everyone else, get your freebie at the freebie section below. I am also giving away an eBook with Camping recipes under the recipe section. After all, it is summer over here in South Africa at the moment! You will also find hundreds of Christmas recipes in the Mrs Claus Cookbook, just scroll down.

This will be the last letter for 2009, I am sending it out a bit early as many of you will be away over the Festive season. I would just like to wish all subscribers a blessed and safe Festive season, please drive safely if you are going to be travelling! Remember, bright drivers dim, dim drivers don't!

Most of my newsletters contain downloadable freebies, if you missed out on previous ones, go to the Archive and download those you missed.

Just to let everyone know that I reserve the right to use anything that arrives in my email inbox either on my website or in my newsletter, unless it clearly states that I am not allowed to do so.

Our Lotto has increased their ticket prices, more good reason to get your entry to the UK Lotto or Euro Millions. Just click on the banner to the right and start dreaming BIG! You can now get tickets for the UK Lotto , Superena, Powerball, MegaMilions and Euromillions. some paying up to the equivalent of R1,830 million . Get a ticket and dream BIG!!! Just click the banner to the right, its easy and safe to play. If you register for the first time, you get a free ticket!

Recycling old Christmas Cards

A group in our church is recycling old Christmas cards and donating the cards to charity. Some of you will be getting rid of your old cards, could you please send them on to me? Not the whole card, just the front picture, please. And any gift tags as well. Just email me and I will give you my postal address.

Thanks a lot!

Mrs Claus's Cookbook

Click here to access hundreds of Christmas recipes from Mrs Claus's kitchen at the North Pole

Click here for Metric conversions

Free Lotto Tickets

There are still free overseas Lotto tickets available. If you have not yet registered to play you will get a free ticket as a first time registration.

Just email me, and I will give you the details.

Kitch 'n' Zinc

I happened to find this really nice Blog, please click on the link below and go browse around.....

Following with thanks from Brian at Kitsch'n'Zinc

To tip or not to tip
So you’ve had a bad experience at the restaurant. The staff couldn’t give a toss, the salad was tossed at you and the chef was obviously a tosser. Don’t worry, it happens with amazing regularity, even in Cape Town the self professed culinary capital of South Africa but what are you going to do about it? Speak to the manager ? Don’t be silly, he works office hours! Express your disappointment and inner rage by not leaving a tip – yeah that will work. Just don’t try it in the land of the free.
A couple who refused to leave a tip after allegedly receiving bad service in a Pennsylvania restaurant were arrested by police after being accused of theft. Leslie Pope and John Wagner were handcuffed and hauled away after they failed to leave a restaurant's mandatory 18 per cent gratuity - totalling $16 (£10) - for their party of eight. "Nobody wants to be forced to pay a tip or be arrested for terrible service," said Miss Pope, 22. They claimed they had to wait almost an hour for their meal to arrive and Miss Pope said the service was so shoddy they had to get their own cutlery and napkins. The group said they had to repeatedly ask for drink refills while their waitress smoked outside the pub.
The group paid for the meal, but did not leave a tip. Mr Wagner, 24, said he explained to the manager why he was not leaving a tip.The restaurant called the police, and Miss Pope and Mr Wagner were led away in handcuffs. Police said the pair were charged with theft, as the gratuity was part of the actual bill. They are due to appear in court next month where they plan to contest the theft charges. So I suggest you break a window instead, it’s a lesser offence and more fun. .

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Mirna van Wyk

Mirna is an educational psychologist from Stellenbosch. She taught at several schools, amongst others Stellenbosch High School, Bloemhof Girls’ High and Jan Kriel School for learners with barriers to learning. She is a mother, loves art, the ocean and children.

I Corinthians 13 for Parents as adapted by Terblanche Jordaan as adapted by myself.

If I should have the most beautiful house in the neighbourhood and drive the latest 4x4 but my children do know the treasure of my presence then I am as useless as a credit card with its overdraft pushed to the maximum.
If I had the eloquence to sway a boardroom full of executives and do not have the patience to listen to my children, I have nothing to be proud of. If I could deal with difficult clients patiently but do not work at my relationship with my life partner to set a practical example how to handle conflict and actively demonstrate love to my children, I am as useless as a cigarette butt.
If I know how to read the economy and the Stock Exchange; possess all the knowledge of all the libraries but I do not have the love to teach my children with patience and consistency, watch their sports games or teach them to believe to trust God, then my efforts have come to nothing.
If I give 20% of my income to the poor, is on the management of several welfare organizations, sacrifice my health and my holidays to do outreaches in Mozambique but I am too tired to read a story with my child or to play with them on weekends, all my efforts are meaningless.
A parent’s love is patient with a child who is struggling with schoolwork; a parent’s love is friendly even if their child is not in the first team or do not want to take piano lessons; they are not resentful to their children because other children are prettier or cleverer. Neither are they boastful of their children’s achievements.
A parent’s love do not act wrongfully by being jealous of each other, they do not only look out for themselves or manipulate others; is not touchy or distant when their child looks for attention.
A parent who loves her child, do not keep book of old trespasses and keep reminding her of mistakes and is not happy to remind his child with a:” I told you so, but you didn’t want to listen!” But they are delighted when they hear their child speaking truthfully, even if it is to the expense of the parent.
Therefore: a parent covers the children’s shame with love; therefore they remain to believe in their children; they are hopeful for the best outcome for their children; parents tolerate their children’s taste in music, clothes and their moaning with kindness. Now we might only see their teen rebellion but one day when they have grown to adulthood, they will understand what we were trying to teach them in love just as God is guiding us lovingly.
Ultimately patience, encouragement and love remain but the most precious to our children is our unconditional love.
Blessings from heart to heart.

You are welcome to comment or send questions to her at

Golf Balls

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, When 24 hours in a day is not enough;
remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and start to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.
The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded With an unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand.
The students laughed.

'Now,' said the professor, as the laughter subsided,
'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things - God, family, children, health, friends, and favorite passions Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car.

The sand is everything else -- The small stuff.

'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued,'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, You will never have room for the things that are important to you.


Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Play with your children.
Take time to get medical checkups.
Take your partner out to dinner.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the dripping tap.

'Take care of the golf balls first -- The things that really matter.
Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'

One of the students raised her hand
and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled.
'I'm glad you asked'.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.'

South Africa's World Heritage Sites

South Africa has eight World Heritage Sites, places identified by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) to be of "outstanding value to humanity".

Unesco seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world.

This is embodied in an international treaty, the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by the organisation in 1972.

Four of South Africa's World Heritage Sites are classified as cultural, three as natural and one as a mixed cultural and natural site.

They include Table Mountain National Park, with more plant species in its 22 000 hectares than the British Isles, and the Drakensberg, which has both the highest mountain range in Africa south of Kilimanjaro and the continent's richest concentration of rock art.

The sites are:
iSimangaliso (Greater St Lucia) Wetland Park
Robben Island
Cradle of Humankind
uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park
Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape
Cape Floral Region
Vredefort Dome
Richtersveld Cultural & Botanical Landscape

Cradle of Humankind

Year inscribed: 1999, extended 2005
Core zone: 47 000 hectares
Location: Gauteng and North West provinces
Coordinates: 25º 55' 45" S 27º 47' 20" E
Type: Cultural heritage
Unesco reference: 915
Unesco selection criteria:

to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared
to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance
The region of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and environs has one of the world's richest concentrations of hominid fossils, evidence of human evolution over the last 3.5-million years. It is known in South Africa as the Cradle of Humankind.

Found in the provinces of Gauteng and North West, the cradle covers an area of 47 000 hectares. The remains of ancient forms of animals, plants and hominids - our early ancestors and their relatives - are captured in a bed of dolomite deposited 2.5-billion years ago. Although other sites in south and east Africa have similar remains, the cradle has produced more than 950 hominid fossil specimens.

Sites in the area supply crucial information about members of one of the oldest hominids, the australopithecines - two-footed, small-brained primates that appeared about 5-million years ago.

Excavations and research at the Sterkfontein Caves have so far yielded the nearly complete skeleton of a 3.3-million-year-old australopithecine, as well as about 500 specimens of Australopithecus africanus that date from about 2.8- to 2.6-million years ago.

Other major finds in the area include the most complete skull yet found of Australopithecus africanus , an outstanding example of a female Paranthropus - a more robust australopithecine, also known as Australopithecus robustus - and fossils of an early species of the genus Homo with stone tools, the first evidence of cultural behaviour.

The Taung Skull Fossil Site, part of the 2005 extension of the World Heritage Site, is the place where in 1924 the celebrated Taung Skull - a specimen of the species Australopithecus africanus - was found. Makapan Valley, also in the site, features in its many archaeological caves traces of human occupation and evolution dating back some 3.3 million years.

In granting the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage status for its cultural significance, the World Heritage Committee noted that the sites "throw light on the earliest ancestors of humankind. They constitute a vast reserve of scientific information, the potential of which is enormous."


 S A Food and Goods all over the World

Click here to see a list of countries and shops that sell S A goods. If you own a shop overseas that sells SA stuff or if you know of one, let me know and I will add it to the page


Come join me on Facebook, my Facebook email is

Birthday facts

Everything you ever wanted to know about your birthday, click here

Africam Fan Page - the best wildlife webcams
Just another reminder to join the Africam fan page on Facebook. They will be posting photos / videos and other udates and articles on the fan page from now.
join at

Also visit the Africam  website

A Cute Santa video

Click here, wait for it to load add type in your name


Right click here and download a recipe eBook with the yummiest dessert recipes

Weird remedies

I have been collecting Traditional South African Home Remedies (Boererate) for a few years now, mainly to preserve an old tradition. Some are funny but some actually work and have been used since the 1800's when doctors were not easy to come by and people had to make do with what they had. I will be featuring some of the weirder ones in this and future letters:

BRONCHITIS...Take hair from a Chamois...( small mountain antelope) and put into a iron plate and set alight and allow to burn. Let the patient lean over the plate and breathe the smoke in deeply. Give the patient 1 teaspoon of glycerine.

BRONCHITIS…Spread lard onto a piece of flannel and sprinkle well with fine tobacco. Put the cloth on the patient’s chest and cover with another cloth.

BURN WOUNDS…Take goose droppings and apply to the effected areas.

BURN WOUNDS…Take some cattle dung and add some vinegar and mix well. Smear some of the mixture onto a piece of cloth and apply  to the wounds. It will help to soothe the burning sensation and prevent blisters forming.

CANCER...Cut open the liver of a tortoise and apply it to the cancer area.

CONVULSIONS…Boil 2 buckets of water and add 2 mugs of horse manure to the water. Allow to cool until luke warm and then strain. Use the water to bath the baby.

CONVULSIONS…Give the child enough secretion of a rock-rabbit to cover the tip of a knife. Give 3 times per day. Rock-rabbit secretion is obtainable from pharmacies.

CORNS…Kill a snake and while it is still warm…pull it over the corns a couple of times. The corn will then heal and disappear.

CRAMPS…For cramps in your legs…When you go to bed at night just arrange your shoes so that they form a T.

CROUP…Dry goat’s skin and put away safely. When your child has croup… slice a small piece of the skin off and mix with 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water and a little sugar. Stir until the water becomes greenish and then give it to the child to drink. The child will vomit and bring out the phlegm and then the child will immediately feel better.

To all pet lovers

The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.

Dear Dogs and Cats: The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:


(1) They live here. You don't.
(2) If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it 'fur'-niture.
(3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
(4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.

Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:

(1) eat less,
(2) don't ask for money all the time,
(3) are easier to train,
(4) normally come when called,
(5) never ask to drive the car,
(6) don't hang out with drug-using people;
(7) don't smoke or drink,
(8) don't want to wear your clothes,
(9) don't have to buy the latest fashions,
(10) don't need a gazillion dollars for college

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Never buy another recipe book again!

My Recipe CD has now been updated and now includes 55 Recipe eBooks as well as 8 Bonus eBooks (4 eBooks on making, marketing and selling crafts for profit) Click here to take a look. (that works out to about R2 per recipe book! sheessshhh!)

Hello Peter,
Just to let you know that I received my recipe CD today in the mail and I'm over the moon about it.
I'm going to spread the word to others to order copies too. It's most certainly worth every cent..........
Thanks again,

Glenacres Superspar Recipe

Glenacres Superspar sends out a really nice newsletter full of super recipes. To subscribe, click here and send the blank email. 

Orange-Glazed Chicken with Couscous

finely shredded zest and juice of 2 oranges
2 Tbsp honey
4 boneless chicken breast with skin on
300g instant couscous
375g heated chicken stock

1. Mix the orange juice and honey in a large bowl
2. Use a sharp knife to score the chicken skin, making diagonal cuts to form a diamond pattern - don't cut into the flesh
3. Coat the chicken with the orange mixture - cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour
4. Put the couscous in a bowl, add chicken stock and orange zest - cover with plastic wrap and stand for 10 minutes until the liquid is completely absorbed
5. Fluff up the couscous with a fork
6. Place a grill pan over a med-high heat and grill chicken for 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through
7. Rest in a warm place for 5 minutes, slice chicken and serve on a bed of couscous

On the wild side 

Crested Barbet / Trachyphonus vaillantii


Photo by Anna Eksteen
Click the image to see an enlargement

We were very fortunate to see many of these colourful and amusing birds during our recent holiday in the Kruger National Park. If you thought that little baboons and monkeys were funny, you can definitely add these "clowns" to your list. Of these Crested Barbets 99% of those we saw treated us to a show to remember for days to come. The funny faces these guys made and antics they came up with was so laughable and such a pleasure to look at. At some stages it looked as if they had something stuck in their throat or if they where busy choking. Other times they would stretch their necks and it looked so weird, but the moments I enjoyed the most was when they where basking in the sun.

I saw this specific little fellow enjoying the sun at the back of the bungalow at Satara. It is the wall of the bungalow you see in the background. It enjoyed the heat so much that it started to tilt over more and more until its head nearly touched the ground.

Find your way around South Africa

With this really informative map, just click here:

 Source: The all-in-one official guide and web portal to South Africa.  
Afrikaans Newsletter

Subscribe to my Afrikaans newsletter . Visit my Afrikaans website. Recipes and freebie with each newsletter.
Smile a While

Men strike back!
How many men does it take to open a beer?
None. It should be opened when she brings it.

Why is a Laundromat a really bad place to pick up a woman? Because a woman
who can't even afford a washing machine will probably never be able to support you.

Why do women have smaller feet than men?
It's one of those 'evolutionary things' that allows them to stand closer to the kitchen

How do you know when a woman is about to say something smart? When she starts
a sentence with 'A man once told me.....

How do you fix a woman's watch?
You don't. There is a clock on the oven.

If your dog is barking at the back door and your wife is yelling at the front door,
who do you let in first?
The dog, of course. He'll shut up once you let him in.

Scientists have discovered a food that diminishes a woman's sex drive by 90%.
It's called a Wedding Cake.

Why do men die before their wives?
They want to.

Women will never be equal to men
Until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still
think they are sexy..

The Smiths were unable to conceive children and decided to use a surrogate father to start their family. On the day the proxy father was to arrive, Mr. Smith kissed his wife goodbye and said, 'Well, I'm off now. The man should be here soon.'
Half an hour later, just by chance, a door-to-door baby photographer happened to ring the doorbell, hoping to make a sale.
'Good morning, Ma'am', he said, 'I've come to...'
'Oh, no need to explain,' Mrs. Smith cut in, embarrassed, 'I've been expecting you.'
'Have you really?' said the photographer. 'Well, that's good.. Did you know babies are my specialty?'
'Well that's what my husband and I had hoped. Please come in and have a seat !.
After a moment she asked, blushing, 'Well, where do we start?'
'Leave everything to me. I usually try two in the bathtub, one on the couch, and perhaps a couple on the bed. And sometimes the living room floor is fun.. You can really spread out there.'
'Bathtub, living room floor? No wonder it didn't work out for Harry and me!'
'Well, Ma'am, none of us can guarantee a good one every time. But if we try several different positions and I shoot from six or seven angles, I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results.'
'My, that's a lot!', gasped Mrs. Smith.
'Ma'am, in my line of work a man has to take his time. I'd love to be In and out in five minutes, but I'm sure you'd be disappointed with that.'
'Don't I know it,' said Mrs. Smith quietly.
The photographer opened his briefcase and pulled out a portfolio of his baby pictures. 'This was done on the top of a bus,' he said.
'Oh, my God!' Mrs. Smith exclaimed, grasping at her throat.
'And these twins turned out exceptionally well - when you consider their mother was so difficult to work with.'
'She was difficult?' asked Mrs. Smith.
'Yes, I'm afraid so. I finally had to take her to the park to get the job done right. People were crowding around four and five deep to get a good look'
'Four and five deep?' said Mrs. Smith, her eyes wide with amazement.
'Yes', the photographer replied. 'And for more than three hours, too. The mother was constantly squealing and yelling - I could hardly concentrate, and when darkness approached I had to rush my shots. Finally, when the squirrels began nibbling on my equipment, I just had to pack it all in.'
Mrs. Smith leaned forward. 'Do you mean they actually chewed on your,'
'It's true, Ma'am, yes.. Well, if you're ready, I'll set-up my tripod and we can get to work right away.'
'Oh yes, Ma'am. I need to use a tripod to rest my Canon on. It's much too big to be held in the hand very long..'
Mrs. Smith fainted

Tips 'n Tricks

How to Measure Butter
Have you tried to measure exactly 1 cup of butter (or tablespoon for that matter)?
Spend forever to squeeze the butter in the cup, making sure there are no spaces,
just to spend more time with a spatula trying to get every little bit of butter out of the cup again?

Q: Is 1/2 lb. of butter the same as 1/2 cup of butter? ( Or margarine or baking margarine like Stork bake or Marvello)
A: The recipe writers of the world have entered into a conspiracy to make cooking with butter way more complex than it should be.
In one recipe they ask for a half-cup of butter. In the next, they ask for 8 tablespoons.
Then they turn around and demand one stick of butter.
And the whole time, they're asking for the same thing!
In the US, butter is mostly packaged in 1-pound boxes, with four individually wrapped quarters or sticks.
In South Africa, butter is packed 250g or 500g.
Sometimes you get a smaller brick.
Or at Woolworth's you can get a Stick of Butter.
The margarines are packed in 250g, 500g or 1kg.

Each pound (S.A. 500g) is two cups of butter.
Each quarter-pound stick is 8 tablespoons or a half a cup. Each tablespoon is 1/2 ounce.

To thwart the wicked aims of those recipe writers once and for all, right click here to download the following fool-proof Butter Measurement Translation Chart to Defeat Nefarious Recipe Writers

Thanks to ePosvriende -

Some great resorts we have visited

We have just returned from a week at Ekuthuleni, click here for my report and some pictures.
You can also see some more photos here

Since Ekuthuleni we have also been to Hazyview Cabanas, for my write-up and pictures click here

We are just back from a really nice trip to Mozambique - Morrumbene Beach Resort

We have just returned from a glorious week at Mnarani Club, Kilifi, Kenya

We also had a really nice stay at Hole in the Wall and Caribbean Estates


Basil is one of the most versatile herbs in our garden
It's name derives from Basilisk, a serpent-like creature whose venom was very potent
The herb was said to be an antidote to the venom
Basil likes sun, but grows better in semi-shade, and doesn't like frost
It can be grown in a pot and reaches between 30 and 60 cm.
Basil attracts butterflies to the garden, and planted between your rows of vegetables, keeps the insects away

Domestic Use
Used in potpourris and floral arrangements, it gives the room a spicy scent
Fresh basil in the kitchen, keeps flies away

Cosmetic Use
Basil is said to stimulate hair growth

Medicinal Use
Drawing out poison from insect bites and stings
As a tonic for the relief of nausea and indigestion
Rub onto the temples for relief from a headache
Make into a fusion and gargle as a mouthwash

Culinary Use
Finely chopped basil enhances all vegetable dishes
Chopped basil and olive oil may be used as a salad dressing
It is very good with all tomato dishes
May be added to an Italian Pesto Sauce

Pound 4 cups of basil leaves with 2-3 cloves of garlic in a large pestle
Add a little salt, 4 Tsp of walnuts or Pine Nuts, 4 Tsp parmesan cheese and pound
Slowly add 5-6 Tsp of olive oil

The FunkyMunky Herb eBook is now available. 48 popular herbs, descriptions and uses with photos. Immediately available, will be emailed to you. Only R50 , send me an email for payment details.
I'm very impressed with what I've read so far. What I really like is that your book is a combination of medicinal and culinary advice, unlike many other herb books I've read.
And the format is great - thanks very much. I have an ambitious project to make a herb garden this year - so your section of herb gardens will come in very handy - Shelagh
Zimbabwe update

For the latest on happenings in Zimbabwe, go to:  and subscribe to their newsletter, a really good source of current information

Cathy Buckle has started writing again from Zimbabwe, her letter is below.

Here is Cathy's letter:

Dear Family and Friends,

The one non-political word most likely to cause animated, angry outbursts in Zimbabwe is 'Zesa.' Officially the acronym stands for Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, more appropriately it is known as Zimbabwe Electricity Sometimes Available.

We've now had three grim, gruelling weeks of power cuts where the lights go out at 4 or 5 in the morning and stay off until 9 or 10 at night - every day of the week and weekend. Normal functioning has become almost impossible. Food bought with precious US dollars is going rotten in silent fridges; geysers are cold and there is no way to put a single hot meal on the table as zesa is non existent at breakfast, lunch and supper times.

Only receiving a few hours of power in the middle of the night we expected our bills would have reduced by three quarters but this isn't happening. Business and residential areas alike, Zesa bills continue to be more than most people earn in a month. Unexplained and incomprehensible is how you go from having a credit balance one month to owing 700 or 800 US dollars the next. Small businesses already struggling to stay open are getting bills ranging from 5,000 to 12,000 US dollars a month. It's become commonplace to get home and find you've been disconnected or, in my home town, to find that Zesa employees have actually physically removed MCB's (Mains Control Boards) from your house.

The worst comes when you emerge from a 16 hour power cut, cold, tried and hungry. The lights flicker once, twice and then stay off again - it's a fault on the line. Even though Zesa have a 24 hour fault service, they say they no longer attend at night, or before 8am in the morning, and so you wait. By the time they go looking for a fault (after you have picked them up in your car and driven them round and round) and they have effected the repair, you still don't get anything done as you are back into the standard 16 hour power cut. If there is more than one fault on the line then you can go on like this for days, staggering from power cuts to faults with the briefest flicker of lights in between but not even enough time to boil a kettle.

In out of town areas, people are going without electricity for multiple days, even weeks. One rural friend said they'd had no power for over a week. The only commercial farmer still operating in the area had recently been evicted by an army man and now there was no one with a vehicle prepared to travel the 20 kilometers to town to collect Zesa workers to fix the broken line.

Sitting here writing this letter by hand I try and remember the last time I saw Zesa doing any maintenance in my suburb. I decide it must be about 5 years ago when they came door to door and cut overhanging

branches, cleared around poles and checked their lines. I fume at this thought and also at the information that a junior Zesa worker in his early twenties and without tertiary education is currently earning 800 US dollars a month - nearly seven times more than a degreed teacher or nurse. Perhaps that's why our bills are so high?

Until next week, thanks for reading,
Copyright cathy buckle 21 November 2009.
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