LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Darkness is upon us, but we aren’t powerless
Dear DM168 readers,
Last week I was happily ensconced on a Limpopo farm, spending most nights chatting to family around a wooden supper table in the warm glow of two fires and candlelight. Going back to the dark ages was a fabulous thing to do in the misty mountains with not a care in the world. But, we are in the 21st century and even though I switched off for a week, this work I love to do requires electricity and WiFi, day and night – something our country cannot provide.
Yesterday I visited a friend to check out their hybrid solar system to see how they keep the lights on while Eskom shuts down. I know many colleagues and friends are also investigating renewable energy as a way of being less grid-dependent.
We South Africans are masters of the art of pivoting, especially when we are down and in the dark. But we are also gatvol. We are mostly gatvol with the ANC, who got us in the dwang in the late ’90s, when they refused to listen to the experts at Eskom who warned that we would run out of electricity in 2007 unless they built more power stations. The reason for this delay was an ideological battle in the ANC between those who wanted to privatise Eskom and those who believed it should remain state-owned.
Former president Thabo Mbeki is on record as apologising for this delay, but the Jacob Zuma-led warriors for Radical Economic Transformation in the ANC, who ousted him, charged ahead with supposed state-led development, which turned out to be State Capture. Now we are saddled with a bunch of fat cat cadres and others who are doing their damnedest to destabilise Eskom and the country to save themselves and their Umshini wami hero from jail time.
That leaves us with the likelihood of load shedding Stage 6 for a long time. And it will get worse until President Cyril Ramaphosa and his ANC ministers get their heads out of the sand and realise that Eskom’s ageing coal stations are not going to be able to power our future.
Two feisty members of the Our Burning Planet team, Onke Ngcuka and Ethan van Diemen, dug deep to join the dots and explain how we got into this load-shedding vortex. They also investigated what it would take to keep the lights on. Read their fascinating article to find out why all the energy and environmental experts they spoke to said load shedding is in Minister of Minerals and Energy Gwede Mantashe’s hands.
Be part of the solution and tell us what you think should be done by the politicians, individuals and organisations to solve our energy crisis by writing to me at heather@ dailymaverick.co.za
Yours in search of light in our many hours of darkness,