We may soon have not only electricity, but also power

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By Howard Feldman

“May your electricity come on just in time for loadshedding!”

There is no curse more South African, more cruel and more 2022. It captures the year that was, speaks to our challenges, and reflects the exasperation of a nation spectacularly let down by government.

Sunday 20 November began with Eskom announcing that – because of stable production – there would be no loadshedding. For once “Eskom se push” remained green and no one asked “what time the power is going out?” For a few carefree hours South Africans felt normal.

Sunday 20 November ended with an announcement that Stage 5 would be implemented because the diesel was finished and there was no money to buy more.

Until April.

Sorry. Not sorry.

It is hard to imagine what changed in a few short hours. The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this wasn’t connected to the fact that President Cyril Ramaphosa was out of the country. This would not be the first time that the Eskom wheels have come off just when the President happens to be out of the country.

There is a real sense that the Eskom story is more about power than it is about electricity … and that Eskom is just one of the many battlefields on which this war is being fought, especially considering the internal battles within the ANC.

The conspiracy theorist might also wonder if perhaps there was knowledge that the following day the Supreme Court would rule that former President Jacob Zuma’s parole was unlawful and that he would be required to return to prison.

It was not that long ago that we watched that movie.

If one was under the impression that lessons had been learned from the riots last year in July following the arrest of Jacob Zuma, the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal said that regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Zuma would not be going back to prison.

Which is an interesting, but very worrying approach for a political party to take.

With a few weeks to go ahead of the ANC elective conference, there should be little surprise that sabotage, subterfuge and shenanigans have become part of our daily experience.

South Africans have long seen evidence of the tactics used by ANC leadership and the depth to which they are prepared to go in order to protect themselves and their cohorts. South Africans be dammed.

The loadshedding and diesel news has had a particularly negative impact on morale. South Africans are understandably exhausted. The effort to remain positive, to laugh at adversity and to ignore the nagging insecurity of what might happen next, cannot be overstated.

Anxiety is after all exhausting.

That said, now is not the time to falter (to quote Sir Winston Churchill). What we are seeing, is the implosion of the ANC. It is the death of a movement that died spiritually years ago, but has continued to exist to serve only itself.

Much of what we are witnessing, speaks to the desperation of the ANC. The movement does not have a win to showcase. It does not have leadership to unite and does not have the credibility required to lead a skeptical nation.

Others, however, do. Long established, as well as new parties finally have the sense that the ANC can be toppled. Organizations outside of politics have begun to see their efforts rewarded and as tough as the situation might be, citizens are no longer afraid to call out the ANC for what it is.

Mostly, South Africans would do well to remember that in no time at all, the year will be done and the ANC elective congress will be a thing of the past. And that sooner than we can imagine, there will be the opportunity for us to have not only electricity, but also power.