Making light of load-shedding

SA gets to laugh as electricity crisis fuels April Fool’s stories

THERE may have been fewer jokes this year, but many were still fooled by the raft of April Fool’s gags published and broadcast around South Africa yesterday.

But the biggest joke was on the country’s media for a change when the Presidency turned the tables on the fourth estate by issuing a media statement announcing the inclusion of three new members of government.

The statement, issued by spokesman Mac Maharaj and placed on the Presidency’s web page, read: “President Jacob Zuma announces new additions to the National Executive which have been made to further enhance service delivery.

“The appointments are as follows: Minister in the Presidency responsible for Public Participation and Interface, Mr Essop Pahad; Minister for Roads and Traffic Affairs, Mr Charles Nqakula; Deputy Minister for Social Cohesion and Nation Building, Mr Zizi Kodwa. The President wishes the new members all the best in their new portfolios.”

The release, which drew smiles from politicians, had the media in an uproar until Pahad later revealed that it was a joke.

In the Eastern Cape, The Herald’s announcement that there would be nine-hour bouts of loadshedding over the Easter period drew dismay from residents, including a Herald staff member who after reading the story hastily contacted her husband to ask him to stock up on extra firewood and other provisions for the weekend.

Ironically, it was her husband who assured the staffer that the news item was probably a joke.

Algoa FM falsely reported on its breakfast show that a toll road would be established between East London and Port Elizabeth.

Port Elizabeth free newspaper PE Express took a sly approach to April Fool’s by placing a story on page two, as opposed to the traditional front page position.

The paper reported that 26 suburbs in the city would renamed. Examples included Sunridge renamed as Restitution, Donkin Reserve as Malema Square and Algoa Park as Govan Mbeki Glen.

The Herald’s sister publication in East London, Daily Dispatch, informed its readers that Nelson Mandela’s house in Qunu had been sold to a Russian tycoon for R15-million.

Nationally, load-shedding was at the centre of most of the hoax reports, which included that the power used by smartphones had to be reduced to keep cellphone masts online and that Eskom and the Department of Health planned to compel citizens to cycle daily on a stationary bike engineered to convert mechanical energy into electricity.

Beeld’s cheeky report revealed that Zuma had finally decided that the right thing to do would be to pay back the money spent on non-security upgrades at his home in Nkandla.

The Daily Maverick announced that controversial singer Steve Hofmeyr was to join the EFF as a senior strategist.

-Shaun Gillham

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