Eskom has confirmed that South Africans will once again be subjected to load shedding starting at 08:00 on Thursday.
The power utility confirmed that load shedding will resume after “the increase in unit breakdowns” and that the rolling blackout will continue until 22:00. While the load shedding schedule will start at stage two, it may be escalated to stage three during peak hours and is expected to last through the weekend.
“The delay of the return to service of two units at Duvha and Tutuka and the breakdowns of four units at Kriel, Tutuka, and Kendal have resulted in the need for load shedding today,” Eskom said in a statement, as reported by News24. “[The] constrained power supply situation may persist throughout the weekend.”
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Once again, we find ourselves in a uniquely South African situation. The very phrase “load shedding” is a travesty in itself, a pathetic euphemism for “rolling blackouts” to protect politicians from the wrath of the people by psychologically softening the blow of a dysfunctional State-Owned Enterprise and the sheer failure of the ANC to adequately run our government for almost three decades.
As if credit rating downgrades and years of mismanagement weren’t enough to destroy our economy, a global pandemic most certainly has accelerated its swan song. And if there was one thing that the government could have done to give us the faintest of chance of surviving while we’re all confined to our homes, it would be to ensure that we have an uninterrupted power supply. Yet, most South Africans won’t be particularly outraged. But what happens when the power supply is so unstable that our hospitals go dark? What happens when ventilators for COVID-19 infected patients turn off?
With the fifth most infections in the world (568,919), a broken healthcare system already on its knees and a struggling economy that is disproportionately affecting South Africa’s massive impoverished population, the camel’s back is starting to break. An extended period of load shedding may become the final straw for South Africa.
It’s not the first time that load shedding is taking place during this crisis, nor will it be the last, that much is certain. A question that our leadership, our ministers and perhaps most pertinently our president needs to ask is “how many times can we kick our people while they’re down before a full-on revolt breaks out?”