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Eskom’s black presence

People in South Africa may understand fully the inconvenience of having a six-hour power cut (in the case of Cape Town several days in mid-winter) more than many other nations out there might understand, experience and tolerate.

How can it be that a nation’s power utility was not fully prepared and anticipated the growth in demand, given the prosperous outlook of nationals and government alike, let’s say about 10 years ago? Seems that it was inclined to plan for slow growth scenarios, instead of recognising that this southern tip of Africa was to become a serious global economic hub — maybe as a result of apartheid leftovers, or perhaps it had something to do with lack of vision of the newly appointed powers over the past decade? I’m not to judge that.

Fact is, as so eloquently and almost innocently put by Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga, the country will experience more power cuts and tariff increases over “at least” the next five years, with the emphasis on “at least”. You know, I would be inclined to fire every single last person responsible for this predicament were I in the position to do so, but unfortunately this would not alleviate the crisis. We as consumers will have to bite the bullet and try to assist with solving the energy crisis in this country if any of us want to actually see the end of this decade and start dreaming about things like 2010’s World Cup and other potentially reputation-threatening events to be hosted by this country.

What I do find somewhat entertaining is the dead-pan expression with which Mr Maroga delivers this news to the nation, matter-of-factly as only a person on death row may endeavour to deliver a truly liberating (from all sin) address to appreciative followers. I would at least expect some display of if not remorse, then something closely resembling it! This is like our president stating that we are actually at war with our neighbours, but there’s no way we could have foreseen this and unfortunately we did not plan for this eventuality (now that may even frighten the living bejesus out of me).

I guess like so many other citizens I am feeling the pangs of frustration welling up inside of me when I cannot cook my supper, make me tea or read my book without having to scratch around in the (now front, used to be back) of the cupboard to try to find my gas appliances and matches. This is not on; it is not acceptable. It is the result of poor planning and insufficient expenditure, leading to a “false” economic boom on the back of cheap and dirty power. Unsustainable!

I hope that the future of Southern Africa and its black outlook will not suffer the same dysfunctional planning (or lack of) fate and that some of the powers that be will have the foresight, insight and conviction to change the face of power on our dark continent. I am not someone to dwell on the past, but my oath, this past should have taught some serious lessons and I hope they have made an impression where it matters.

As for straight-faced expression of indifference regarding the current status, I think the nation is owed an explanation and not a swept-under-the-carpet expression of incompetence by the responsible organisation(s).

I look forward to living in a country that does not excuse every single misgiving by powerful figures and institutions and dress them up in summer frocks in order to win the next election; a place where people and organisations are held to task and a land where honesty and integrity are valued, while deception, lies and incompetence are met with sincere rejection.