Let’s talk about the light(s) 

I loved seeing my social media feeds light up with pictures of lamps, prayers, sweetmeats and colourful outfits in celebration of the Hindu festival of lights – Diwali – over the past few days. I tried to like and comment on as many as I could. It was not mean to be. With our lamps still flickering, Eskom literally began pulling the plug. And in dramatic fashion too. On Friday, stage 2 loadshedding was announced. A few hours later, it jumped to stage 4. It then reverted to stage 2 for the weekend. What a mess! It doesn’t end there…

Yesterday Eskom announced stage 2 loadshedding until Saturday. While I was writing this, it jumped to stage 4 loadshedding until Friday morning and then back to stage 2 until Saturday morning. It means we have to contend with loadshedding for the entire working week ahead. Why? Eskom says the extended load shedding is due to the current lack of generating capacity and its inability to build sufficient reserves.

And so we, law-abiding, taxpaying citizens, must pay for Eskom’s inadequacies. Is this our new way of life in South Africa? As someone who works from home, I find myself constantly having to plan for loadshedding, even if it’s not scheduled, and working at odd hours, around the different stages, to meet my deadlines. And I pray. I pray that my connectivity lasts because without that, I cannot work. One of the reasons provided by network operators is that load shedding gives them little time to charge the back-up batteries at cell towers.

All this, at a time when South Africa’s economy, ravaged by COVID-19 and the July unrest, needs to recover. We tell the world to invest in our country, and that we are ready for business. Without the lights on, are we really?

For matric learners who have had a disrupted year of schooling amid COVID-19, loadshedding means more disruptions – as they study at home and write their final examinations. It truly is unfair.

I am a proud South African. I’m passionate about our people and our products, promoting them at every opportunity. I know that building a strong and stable democracy takes time, but when it comes to Eskom my patience is wearing thin… Not everyone can afford inverters or solar power. And, not everyone is on the electricity grid, with Eskom losing R2 billion to electricity theft annually. Illegal connections which can overload the electricity grid also make it difficult to maintain stable electricity supply.

I cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, unless there’s a major shake-up in the running of Eskom. So for now, I will light a lamp in the Hindu tradition and pray…

4 thoughts on “Let’s talk about the light(s) 

  1. South Africans’ patience can be measured by the number on the voters roll.
    How much of corruption and non-delivery can a country hold?

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