When load shedding first reared its ugly head on our shores in 2008, we treated it as a temporary inconvenience, a joke that would soon disappear and we would carry on with our lives.
Alas, almost 14 years later, this “joke” has become an albatross around the neck of our economy, leading to the closure of some businesses and disrupting the lives of many.
In the 14 years we have been dealing with load shedding, Eskom has had 11 CEOs and acting CEOs. Each of these highly paid individuals and their teams have had plan after plan, war room after war room, and laid blame after blame.
When this latest bout of load shedding came around, it was announced that it was more complicated than the “usual” seasonal incarnation whereby people use heaters and other appliances to keep warm in winter, while at the same time putting a burden on the grid.
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We were told that the power utility’s workers, who had gone on a strike that coincided with the power cuts, were engaged in acts of sabotage.
The country travailed under stage 6 rolling blackouts – which meant that households and small companies without generators did not have power for eight hours at a stretch.
Health facilities were not spared, resulting in unnecessary deaths.
As a result of these power cuts, South Africans are angry and despondent, investors are jittery and this has a negative impact on the economy.
In response to this catastrophe, there is a growing chorus for Eskom CEO André de Ruyter’s head. But we do not understand how his sacking could be the solution.
The problem is systemic and historical.
Trade unions must stop acting irresponsibly as they did this week. More importantly, President Cyril Ramaphosa must treat this as the emergency it is.
The independent power producer procurement programme must be sped up to give support to our clearly challenged national power grid.
Government must cut the red tape and get all the relevant parties working together to provide lasting solutions. We need hope, and leadership.