Five Cent Piece – Wherefore art thou, Eskom?

Commentary by Kyle Cowan

It’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but not at the tips of their fingers.

Diesel shortages, broken generators, ash piling up to the rafters and citizens all over the country are hotly debating load shedding and the failures of a system that is our only link to keeping the lights on.

Wherefore art thou, Eskom?

The monologue is predictable. Eskom has failed, Eskom is failing and Eskom is going to fail some more before the situation somehow miraculously corrects itself.

In the meantime, the Internet and social media are saturated with some really funny anecdotal pictures and comments about the ailing parastatal. It makes for a good laugh, but the problem is rather serious.

Everybody is giving his or her two cents about Eskom, Five Cent Piece included (but with interest). It’s a problem we all have to own up to. Eskom as a whole has been run to the ground due to inept management and worse decisions. Lack of maintenance and a bit of evasive media tactics thrown in for good measure. Thus ‘load shedding’ was born, to be forever synonymous with dark, cold nights and freezing early morning showers.

Sure, it’s easy for us to sit here and say ‘you’re doing it wrong’, but the proof is in the pudding. Well, there was no pudding over the weekend because Tannie Martie’s best soufflé flopped spectacularly when the power went off unexpectedly and ‘Stage 3 load shedding’ took full effect.

Even more spectacular, was the array of well-chosen and particularly insulting words that flowed from between her dentures. The outburst is already something of a cult legend in Five Cent Piece’s mind and largely considered to be the worst thing to have left her kitchen in forty years.

Fictional dark humour aside, the problem is a real thing. Consider for a moment, if the generator for an emergency unit or ICU at a hospital was to fail while loads were being shed. Take a second and think about what would happen if suddenly every single light and plug in this country stopped working all at once. Imagine… imagine Eskom doing its job.

And what does Eskom do, amid all the chaos? They give their employees the option to jump ship. Take your money, take your Eskom sponsored fleecy-lined jacket and get off before the entire debacle sinks into the quagmire that is fast becoming South African industry and government bumbles.

So, what did South Africans use before candles?


Kyle Cowan

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