"Dear Customer, fault 191CWK18112345 has been created for your service ID. Telkom will endeavour to resolve this problem within two days."
The problem, however, is that someone opened up the Telkom cable ducts, tied a big chain around the cables, attached this to their pickup truck's tow bar and pulled a few hundred metres of cable out of the ground.
It's going to take more than two days to resolve that problem. In the meantime, an entire business park is without internet or telephony.
Or, a high power electricity pylon falls over somewhere in the veld, because all of the cross braces have been stolen for scrap metal, and this causes a major power outage.
Or, a water pump breaks and there is no contingency plan. The backup pump has been broken for nearly a year and no testing of failover has been done at all; a minor issue of poor service delivery that caused large parts of Johannesburg to be without water for a few weeks.
A chronic lack of maintenance, poor security, bad project planning, ineffective public servants, corrupt politicians and business people, poor service delivery and not enough capital expenditure because it's all going on public service salaries are conspiring to shake the infrastructure of South Africa and make us realise that as businesses, we have got to plan for a future where we have a backup plan for anything that requires government or other infrastructure.
Everything is under threat as we come to a phase where, due to lack of maintenance and planning, things fall apart. It's like that 10-year-old dishwasher that breaks irreparably on its 10th birthday.
It is of no use lamenting the lack of proper government at local authority and provincial government level. Until voters realise what is going on, they will continue to vote for corruption, theft, inefficiency and extremely poor service delivery.
If we look at any of the essential services that a business needs, there are currently poor service delivery issues with regard to these somewhere in the country. These are visible through the public protests that occur. What is the economic impact of this poor service delivery on business and on the economy? I believe it is massive and amounts to a number of percentage points being lost in terms of GDP.
So, let's look at the following services provided by government at various levels.
Water: A mind-blowing 37% of our clean drinking water is being lost due to leaking pipes and dripping taps. That is millions, possibly billions, of cubic metres of water gone. Expect water to be shut off in a town near you.
Electricity: Well, we all know about this one. Corrupt tenders, bad management, lack of government planning, lack of funds, massively delayed power station builds and a focus on BEE instead of on electricity generation. Even total grid collapse is a possibility. Plan for this.
Postal services: What postal services? This is yet another area where we can forget about state owned and mandated enterprises delivering anything. Businesses have had to move to using 100% courier services due to ongoing strikes and a complete management fiasco. This entity epitomises poor service delivery.
Telecoms and internet: Telkom cable is a prized commodity and this cannot be good for its services. Some areas have been designated as no-go areas and Telkom has stopped reinstalling cable due to constant theft. This is such a critical area for business and as a business one must find a way of either getting fibre or wireless connectivity in place for internet and VOIP services.
Is there any good news here?
The good news is that you have control over what your business does. Your business needs to plan for backup or alternative services for all these collapsing and partially dysfunctional services that we expected our government to deliver.
Planning for business continuity is a vital part of any business' processes, and now you need to plan for events that disrupt your basic services.
There is more good news: in 2015 IronTree will be releasing a highly interactive business continuity planning system. This system will assist your business in planning and mitigating against all eventualities, being able to simulate an event, being able to fully audit and improve the simulation and being able to overcome the lack of services through planning, thought, systems and alternatives to the government basic services.