Jan 29, 2023

Load Shedding Is A Burden For Business And Marginalised

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The middle class are moaning terribly on social media about the cost to their lifestyles so you can imagine the greater impact it will have on the marginalised.

FILE PHOTO: Farm workers harvest cabbages at a farm in Eikenhof, near Johannesburg, South Africa May 21, 2018. Picture taken May 21, 2018. PICTURE: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

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For peace, justice and harmony in any society we need to pursue it using democracy, strong police, a fair justice system, freedom of speech etc, WRITES MASIBONGWE SIHLAHLA

However, the destitute marginalised in South Africa have given up, some I must hasten to say not all but the fact that some have given up is an indictment of our democracy because political freedom means nothing without financial freedom our poor have learned to their detriment.

Some economists have calculated the cost of load shedding to the tune of billions of rand per day. Who is going to pay for this loss? It will be the taxpayer and the consumer for the next 200 years. I joke not, countries such as Germany have only recently paid off their restitution in terms of World War 2.

The middle class are moaning terribly on social media about the cost to their lifestyles so you can imagine the greater impact it will have on the marginalised. In the rural areas, it is worst, I recently heard from people in the small villages around Gcuwa how difficult their lives are when it is load shedding because the ATMs are not working.

Many people cannot afford to jump in a car and go to the next town in the hope of finding an ATM that works. Recently some workers on their way home could not draw money as the ATMs were not working as they were trying to draw their monthly payments to pay for the taxi. Some shops won’t give cashback if there is load shedding which is understandable.

The poor have suffered food losses and fridge losses to the tune of millions forcing the poor to buy fresh meat every day, recently at a local shop in Whittlesea the chicken in the shop went off and many people were forced to buy it as there was no alternative and had to go to the trouble to thoroughly cook the meat to protect their families.


FILE PHOTO: The cash-strapped entity has been implementing stage six load-shedding for the past two weeks. PICTURE: SABC News.

Many people have blamed the Covid lockdown for the increase in prices but the real culprit in the massive price increase has been load shedding. Many shops just cannot trade when there is load shedding and thus the loss of millions is passed on to the consumer. Where shops do have their own generators they sometimes have to let it run for 8 hours per day not only leading to massive wear and tear on the generator but at the same time burning a huge amount of fuel which is now over R23,00 per litre. Once again the cost is passed to the consumer.

Some factories in Cape Town recently because they are all in the same complex decided to pool money and buy a heavy-duty generator as the loss to their businesses was going to force many into bankruptcy.
Once again the cost in the end is passed on to the consumer. Some shops have kept the price of their bakery products the same but the products are all SMALLER and made with cheaper ingredients.

One of the most devastating impacts of load shedding is the massive increase in crime as a direct result of load shedding. Copper thieves are having a field day stealing cables during load shedding. Eskom and many municipalities are hard-pressed to make known load-shedding schedules as criminals plan their activities around this. Recently during load shedding after an armed robbery, the police in Hermanus said they can’t come out if it is load shedding as reported in our local newspaper.

Not only is load shedding already oppressing the lives of the poor but adding to their woes is an increase in electricity tariff to the tune of 18,65% from April 2023 as granted by Nersa. This is like kicking a man when he is down, in fact, it is exactly that.

When the poor buy appliances on hire purchase they are going to pay more as the insurance costs have escalated as a direct result of load shedding. A young person complained to me recently as he has to leave home very early he does not have time to prepare lunch for himself and is dependent on a famous brand takeaway who sells a product at a very good price for him who only earns R2000 per month.

When there is load shedding these takeaways does not have a generator and closes their doors during that time, he is thus forced to buy alternative lunch at a much high cost and this is impacting on his budget whenever there is load shedding. He needs to support his mother and child and thus load shedding has many impacts on many people.

When former president Jacob Zuma pushed for nuclear energy as it is very clean and reliable and cheap the project was sabotaged to appease the green lobby and others who have the interest to keep Eskom dysfunctional as there was much to be gained. For the cost to the economy load shedding is costing us we could have bought 3 new nuclear power stations. We currently have a nuclear power station at Koeberg and there is no pollution to the environment, yet daily millions of tonnes of pollution are pumped into the atmosphere in Mpumalanga and other provinces.

FILE PHOTO: Business owners are faced with loss, they also have employees they need to pay salaries to. PICTURE: Daily Vox

At a local spaza shop the onions and tomatoes are now sold at R3,00 each for a small one, it just shows you how scarce certain vegetables are becoming as they are sold per item and not per kg. Even potatoes which are at R89 per 10kg pocket will soon be sold per item. The reason for this situation is that farmers who use irrigation pumps cannot irrigate their crops when there is load-shedding. However, they can buy generators but it will cost so much to run those generators that the price of vegetables will become too high for the super-rich to afford.

Already load-shedding is impacting the quantity of food the poor can afford to buy, which will lead to malnutrition and undernourishment in the long run. This will impact heavily on the ability of the poor to concentrate properly at school as they cannot rely only on lunch at school to nourish them for the day.

Already service delivery is being affected many municipal pumps cannot work if there is no electricity and it is hell for people living in high-rise flats of 5 stories and higher as they need electricity to pump water to those floors as the normal water pressure won’t carry the water so high. Thus in times of load-shedding those people staying on those higher floors won’t be able to cook or use the bathroom.

If you are young you can run down to get water but many of our poor are ill and not in good health.
Last week some schools in Gauteng could not open as there was no water at the school due to the water treatment plants and pumps not working due to load-shedding.

Loadshedding is laying the foundation for a revolution in this country or must I just say an uprising? Many of our poor in the rural areas are totally dependent on the grants they get from the government which they thank the ANC for and will remain loyal at the voting stations in 2024 as for them the ANC remains the only hope for the poor.

That is a fact whether you like it or not.

Sihlahla is the Founder of the Concerned Young People’s Forum of SA and an independent researcher and writer. He writes in his personal capacity.

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