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Eskom needs to take the nation into its confidence, says the writer (Lise Beyers, file )
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If it wasn't so sad, it would be rather funny to note that the emissions from these coal power plants are contributing to climate change which causes these extreme weather events which causes the wet coal which results in the coal power stations to grind to a halt, writes Melanie Verwoerd.
I'm writing this during load shedding, so this is going to be a short column - my candle (and laptop battery) is running low…
Eskom, I think I am speaking for the whole country when I say: "WTF?"
You guys are breaking our hearts like an unfaithful partner.
When Pravin Gordhan took all the journalists on that super-secret-no-sandals-trip to a power station a year ago, he promised that we would have nothing more than stage 2 in the future.
Then Jabu Mabuza promised us in November that there would be no load shedding through the festive period. So we packed up the rechargeable lamps, didn’t buy diesel for the generators and didn’t fill the gas bottles.
And just like that: "Poof!" Zero electricity on Thursday night.
Not nice, guys, not nice.
As one of the memes said: "The E in 'South Africa' stands for electricity."
So, I have a few questions about this crisis:
1) Where is Andre De Ruyter? Surely with this crisis he should be in Eskom RIGHT now and not only on January 15? What can he possibly be doing that is more important than this crisis we are facing at the moment? Honestly Mr. De Ruyter, you are supposed to be the saving grace, so please get in there and start working some magic. (That's, of course, if you are still interested in the job after all of this.)
2) Talking about being in the wrong place, why did it take the President so long to respond to the crisis? I know he is overseas (he told us so on Twitter), but not a word about the Eskom crisis until late last night. Instead, he congratulated Ms. Universe (which, by the way, was the only bit of sunshine in our otherwise dark and depressing day, so congrats Zozibini).
He also told us about his trip to Egypt (where I'm sure they have electricity) to participate in some forum for Sustainable Peace and Development. Only then did he finally talk about how long it is going to take to fix Eskom. As someone remarked after the Egypt tweet: "Oh dude, no! This does not look good. The optics are shocking."
3) And while I'm on the politicians - are they also experiencing load shedding? Can someone please go hang outside the ministerial homes to check if they also go dark with the rest of us? I (and I'm sure the nation) would be super annoyed if not. Senzo Mchunu was very vague when asked in a press conference if he has ever experienced load shedding – which I would guess means "No".
We have not seen even one tweet from Fikile Mbalula or Tito Mboweni trying to cook dinner on gas by candle light, which should fill us all with suspicion. Or maybe they wanted to braai, but the coals were wet?
4) Which brings me to this wet coal business. How many more times do we have to hear this story before something is done? Seriously, we have heard this wet-coal-business for years now. I think my favourite tweet last night was from @bamba_zo which read: "I don't mean to attack Eskom, but how many times must your coal get wet before you build a fucking afdakkie for it?" Well said! Of course, I know it is not that easy.
I also understand that it has been raining a LOT up north. (In fact if it wasn't so sad, it would be rather funny to note that the emissions from these coal power plants are contributing to climate change which causes these extreme weather events which causes the wet coal which results in the coal power stations to grind to a halt). However, surely some contingency must have been worked on by now?
5) Which makes me wonder if this is actually the story, or is there more to it? Is or was this sabotage? Whatever it is, Eskom must take the nation into its confidence. They must learn from the City of Cape Town's water crisis. People will pull together when faced with a possible catastrophe, but if they find out that you were lying to them or not telling them the full truth they will not easily forgive you.
So now that the "Kers" is put back into "Kersfees" what shall we do? It doesn't help much to complain. It is what it is. Let's try and look at the bright side:
One, luckily it is summer and there is more heat and light, and two... okay, I can't find another upside to this.
However, we should all try and use less electricity where we can. We did it with water in Cape Town, so we can do it with electricity as a nation.
And while we wait for someone to fan the coal dry, let's keep our sense of humour and keep those memes flowing.
PS: Thanks to Marelize's mum for giving me this headline for the third time in a year!
I have a sense that I will use it again in 2020.
- Melanie Verwoerd is a former ANC MP and South African Ambassador to Ireland.
Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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