Cheryl Kahla
Deputy Online News Editor
5 minute read
4 May 2022
9:24 pm

May the 4th be with you, because the force surely isn’t with South Africa

Cheryl Kahla

The force left long ago already. Maybe this is our version of the 'Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise'?

Picture: iStock

Star Wars fans around the world celebrated May the 4th — get it? —  today while some of us are sitting in the dark because Eskom is broken, reworking our budget to navigate rising food costs and fuel prices, or to replace a rim obliterated by a pothole.

Maybe you weren’t even able to renew your driving licence yet. The deadline is 5 May, by the way.

I’ve always been optimistic about South Africa. We’re a hardy bunch and usually laugh in the face of pandemics or other crises, but the recent 4th volume of the State Capture report made me rethink pretty much everything. 

I don’t have the answers, but I do know the force is definitely not with South Africa. It hasn’t been for a while. 

Looting at Eskom has been going on for a long, long time. We’ve been subjected to load shedding for 15 years, and the corruption at the power utility has gone unchecked even longer. 

This year alone we’ve already had 29 days of load shedding and there’s more to come, Eskom warns.

Eskom chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer explained: “From 1 January 2021 up until the end of April 2021, we had 29 days of load shedding. Twenty-seven days were at stage 2 and two days were at stage 3.”

Eskom also suffered a staggering R2 billion in losses a year due to cable theft and vandalism.

The power utility’s security acting general manager Advocate Karen Pillay said: “Between all the SOEs in the country, particularly Transnet, Prasa, Telkom and Eskom, it equates to approximately R7 billion in losses per annum,” said Pillay.

Isn’t that just lovely? There’s so much more to unpack, such as the Tegeta deals and the 2014 board, how the Guptas wormed their way in through Zuma.

And then former CEO Matshela Koko has the audacity to say we should thank them — there was no load shedding during their ‘tenure’.

Maybe this neighbourhood has the right idea. They’ve had enough and are now ready to give Eskom the middle finger. Not all heroes wear capes.

Meanwhile, City of Johannesburg Mayoral Committee Member Michael Sun said they spend R100 million a year on security and is working to intensify efforts at substations to reduce vandalism.

Have I mentioned we’re facing a cold winter ahead? Oh but we’re used to load shedding this time of the year by now, I hear you say. 

Nah my bruh. We heard yesterday the petrol price took a (very small — 12c per litre) dip, but diesel and paraffin increased. By a lot, nogal.

ALSO READ: South Africans warned about more suffering despite petrol price decrease

So much for the National Treasury and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s two-phase plan to provide some relief on petrol pumps.

If you don’t have a load shedding plan in place yet, we suggest you get working on creative ways to beat the weather when the power goes out. And go out it will. 

Eskom implemented stage 2 load shedding from 5pm on Tuesday until 5am next week Monday. The same old parrot excuse was given: a “shortage of generation capacity… breakdown of nine generators… they’ll monitor the system” and so on and so forth. Nothing new. 

Guess it could be worse. It could always be worse. We could be spending our cold winter days vloeking Eskom for implementing stage 8

Then, as if all this doesn’t already sound like a bad film script written by a sadistic Discordian, the recent KZN floods and ensuing state of disaster also deserve a shoutout.

Government and politicians are dragging their collective feet to compensate victims of the flood. Meanwhile, people are grieving their loved ones –after digging into their own pockets to cover funeral costs.

Approximately R2.6 billion will be needed to repair the damage. The National Lottery Operator donated R10 million towards relief efforts, so that’s nice.

Samsung stepped up to help. MSC donated R1 million and FNB pledged R7.5m. China also donated R1 million.

The EFF donated R500k to house residents and then used the opportunity to mention how the ANC will steal relief funds. The DA’s Steenhuisen also had something to say.

He’s in Ukraine now, by the way, posing with ‘Top Billing’ hands far, far from any real danger.

Ordinary people have been doing what they can. From getting supplies to assisting stranded residents to cleaning up beaches.

See? We’re a hardy bunch, we get through disasters together. 

But many others who could easily make a difference, didn’t. 

Elon Musk has been dreadfully quiet about the disaster. Not even a tweet (even though he now owns Twitter and could have facilitated real change). It’s not his responsibility to worry about South Africa, I’ve heard some say. 

Fair enough. The question could be asked of any other millionaire and billionaire as well. 

One thing, however, was made very clear recently. Kindness and empathy goes out the window when South African fanboys are touched on their Elon. 

A recent opinion piece about Elon being a spoilt brat caused quite the stir on our social feeds. So much so, I gave up scrolling halfway down the Twitter thread. Feel free to give it a peek, though I wouldn’t recommend it. 

Like me, you may just begin to believe there’s no hope for us anymore.

Aliens, a meteor or another similar disaster should probably just wipe us out already. We’ve had a good run as a species but the last few decades weren’t our best work. 

It’s time to vacate the premises. 

The force left long ago already. Maybe this is our version of The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise?