Dear DM168 readers,
We are three weeks into 2023 and the joie de vivre of New Year’s celebrations has soured at the speed of light into a general malaise. In plain, simple South Africanese, people are GATVOL. We see it in neighbourhood WhatsApp groups. 😡😤🤬😖 Angry emojis have become the most used forms of expression. We see it in marches, protests and petitions. The cause? Twelve hours out of 24 spent without electricity. Relentless Stage 6 load shedding for which both Eskom and our ANC government seem to have no immediate solution in sight. And to top it all, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa has allowed Eskom to charge us all 18.65% more for the electricity they don’t have enough of to supply our whole country.
Load shedding is going to be a part of our lives the whole year and most likely next year too. As Daily Maverick associate editor Marianne Merten informed us in an article published earlier this week, Eskom’s own likely risk outlook to 31 December 2023 is almost solidly red. And she says the consensus emerging in this week’s series of meetings on the energy crisis, and with the National Energy Crisis Committee, was to expect at least another 24 months of persistent, significant rotational power cuts.
Anything Gwede Mantashe, Cyril Ramaphosa or Enoch Godongwana say to the contrary will most likely be spin-doctoring to ensure South Africans still vote for them next year. Ha ha! They will blame all and sundry for sabotage, subversion and plotting to overthrow their incapable state just to dupe more of us to vote the same party that fuc*ed up our power back into power.
Those of us who can afford it need to secure inverters, batteries and solar panels, solar geysers and gas cookers to either go totally off the grid or partially off the grid. I had to dig into my bond to do this, but it has allowed my family and me to comfortably cope with Stage 6. We are privileged. I would suggest that all of us who are privileged enough to secure loans and bonds or have investments and savings, should bite the bullet and say bye-bye to Eskom. That’s if you want to stay in SA. Which I do.
The majority of South Africans, however, cannot afford the investment it will take to wean off Eskom. My colleague Nwabisa Makunga, who edits The Sowetan, published a powerful front page story, listing emerging small businesses which have been crippled by Stage 6 load shedding. Many jobs are at stake and lives too as appliances, and water and sanitation infrastructure buckle under the endless outages.
The time for promises and talking is over. It’s time to act. If there is one person who acts in a crisis, it is Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman. His take on load shedding is quite sage. In an inspiring interview with Estelle Ellis in this week’s DM168 newspaper, he speaks about what small towns and citizens can do beyond complaining about the darkness.
Dr Sooliman’s interview is part of a Power to the People package of stories by Ellis, who details how a court victory against load reduction by a small Mpumalanga town is paving the way for more legal action against Eskom and the state.
Go out and learn more by buying the first DM168 of this year. I promise our newspaper does not need charging to read. And if you are still reading when the sun sneaks over the horizon, let your solar panels and/or inverter, battery-charged bulbs, torchlight, candle or lamp illuminate our 64 pages of uplifting, informative and fun reads.
Yours in defence of truth, and in search of light amid the darkness,
PS: please add to our suggestion box of ways to survive and thrive through the next two years of load shedding by writing to [email protected]
This story first appeared in our weekly DM168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Woolworths, SPAR and Exclusive Books. For your nearest stockist, please click here.