Eskom – South Africa’s power provider – implemented nation-wide blackouts today.
Thanks to a long and stringent lockdown, South Africa is hanging by an economic thread. The corona outbreak and subsequent lockdowns have impacted on every country but the stakes are even higher in a third world country where the majority live on the breadline. South Africans face starvation due to the lockdown’s economic ramifications. Informal traders – denied the chance to work – cannot earn enough to buy daily meals. Workers have lost jobs, businesses have gone bankrupt. By implementing load-shedding, Eskom is forcing the country further to its knees. Despite several month of low demands, they apparently did not do the required maintence on their plants. Or the coal is wet. Or the supply line is broken. Their excuses are many and inconsistent, the result of their actions is devastating.
In the past, I have, perhaps foolishly, defended the extended lockdown. At the time, I felt that it was a small sacrifice to pay for preserving lives. I have always considered myself proudly South African. I was born here and I love my country – our wildlife, our many languages, our rich multiracial culture, our constitution – dearly. But for the first time, I cannot see how we will recover. I’m not just talking about personal stakes although like others, my livelihood has been affected. I’m talking about the national economy, the sinking quality of life, the lives lost not to corona but to poverty.
I am part of the generation who came of age in a newly post-Apartheid South Africa. We were reared on a dream of tolerance, hope and the promise of a better future. Has the dream finally ended?