South Africa to plunge back into Dark Ages

18 Oct

Tantrum of the day

There probably won’t be a South African who does not remember the painful rolling black outs that tormented us in  the first half of 2008. I know I do remember them. Very. Very. Clearly. They have been engraved in my memories with a blunt wooden spoon. I can’t even remember how many times I have missed – either by a few minutes or entirely – a deadline because of those damn power outages and I don’t think I have cursed as much in the first half of 2008 than I have done in the rest of my life. Yup, and there were plenty of times I tried to be Zen while turning thumbs at my desk and breathing deeply (inside however, I was not so Zen – ordering darkness-my-old-friend to piss off and die).

For me, no sparkly bits from the socket means no internet or radio which means no chance of doing research or following the news. As a freelance journalist I depend on various sources to get my story ideas. Not being able to find out what’s going on in the arena of politics or finance means being unable to brief clients about possible stories. No power means not phone calls or telephonic interviews. This means no writing can be done. No writing in turn means no pay which means fighting with land lord, possibly losing my flat, and me and my cat ending up in am empty box on the side of the road eating stale baked beans out of the tin with my fingers. Theoretically.

Ironically enough, power outages prevented me twice from sending an Eskom related story. I was abaout to press ‘send’ and *poof!* power gone. And it staid off, for hours on end. This was the case twice! Luckily the editor – of a foreign financial newspaper – understood my predicament. He even laughed when he called me back after I sent him an sms. “This is the most ridiculous excuse someone has ever come up with,” was his snickering reply. The second time it happened he asked me whether I was perhaps hung over from the night before. Clearly he did not believe me at first. And really, what are the chances?

Now it seems that, despite the price hikes of the past years and the investment from overseas and the world bank cash injections and the government assistance, Eskom is still incapable of providing South Africa with a continuous flow of electricity. We are not talking small change that was pumped into Eskom – we are talking billions.

Another electricity crisis a la 2008, which cost the South African economy millions and millions, had to be prevented with the Kusile power station. The construction of Eskom’s second large power station, situated near Emalahleni in the Mpumalanga province, has been delayed again. The so-called six pack coal-fired station was due to plug into the grid in 2013 and be fully operational by 2016. This ain’t gonna happen, boys and girls so stack up on candles and torches.

I am a horrible gambler. When ever I spend money on a game, it flies out the window – like a bat outta hell. You therefore will never see me at the lotto or the casino. But if I would have been the gambler type, and say if I would strike lucky, my fortune would be directly spent on solar panels. Lots and lots and lots of them so that I would never ever had to rely on the state – ever again. Fed of waiting for them to switch on the light at the end of the tunnel.


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