Dear Eskom …

I hear you want to increase the price of electricity by seventeen percent. Is that all? Why the restraint? I’m sure you are familiar with the expression, “Go big or go home.” Don’t hold back, my friend. You should be asking for eighty percent. In this country, greed is rewarded.

The counter-revolutionary press says that even a seventeen percent increase would be a “major blow” to the country. If there is one thing this country needs right now, it is a major blow. When President Zuma recently played musical chairs with the finance ministry, causing world markets to bludgeon the rand into submission, we thought that was a major blow. It wasn’t. It was nothing more than a bitch slap. It didn’t come close to bringing us to our senses.

The Illuminati-controlled media are, of course, once again exaggerating wildly. All you’re trying to do is make a bit of money, for God’s sake. We’re all capitalists, here. Everyone’s battling to squeeze a buck out of something or someone. In your case, you’re trying to squeeze R23-billion out of us. More power to you, I say, even if it does mean less to us. There’s a joke in there somewhere. I might already have made it. Hard to tell any more.

Let me see if I understand this correctly. You have suffered a massive shortfall in revenue largely as a result of us using less electricity, which we only did because you asked us to. So we are to be punished for being conscientious, patriotic citizens. We are idiots for listening to you in the first place. We deserve to be punished.

There’s a term being used by the anti-Eskomites. They say you are trying to “claw back” money you have already spent. I like it. Claw back. It evokes images of vampires and werewolves ripping and tearing at something too scared and helpless to run for cover.

Seventeen percent. That’s what you’re asking for. It’s also what I got for maths in matric. Coincidence? I hope so. I’m good with numbers – just don’t ask me to do calculations. At least we have that in common. I suppose what I’m saying is that I’m good with counting. Oh, yes. I will whip the president’s arse in a counting competition. But that’s not enough to get me elected. Not that I wish to. I just want electricity. I don’t even mind if you give me the cheap stuff. Most people I know find their lights way too bright and would be quite happy to pay half the price for a diluted version of the good shit.

So you have applied to the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) to give you the increase. Isn’t that a bit like asking your crack dealer cousin to slip you a rock while the wife isn’t looking? You’re related. It’s no good pretending otherwise. You don’t always get on, sure, especially when the neo-liberal wing of the fascist media start snooping around, but you’re basically blood. You’re sucking on the same vein, right?

Thanks to democracy, Nersa has to play a charade called “public hearings” before deciding on whether or not you should be allowed to jack up your prices. In the days before prevarication and dissembling became skills to be listed on one’s CV, public hearings would involve the actual public. Then again, they did sometimes end in public executions. Perhaps that’s why Nersa is holding their hearings in convention centres, far from the great unwashed. Nobody needs public opinion when it’s standing on a chair brandishing a blunt machete and shouting in a deep Transkei dialect.

A man who attended the Cape Town hearings, who looks like he knows a thing or two about agriculture, said farmers wouldn’t be able to absorb the increase. I find that hard to believe. Have you seen the size of farmers? They got that way by absorbing all sorts of things.

He also said food security would be in jeopardy. What? Since when did food get its own security? This is outrageous. Bandits can wander in off the street willy-nilly and help themselves to our wives and children, but there are armed guards on the butternuts?

Equally outrageous is the DA’s storming of your offices at Megatwatt Park this week, demanding that your executives repay the R63-million they’ve received in bonuses since load-shedding began. It’s obvious the bonuses are not a reward for competence and hard work, but are meant as compensation for the shame of working at Eskom. It’s like danger pay, except it’s their reputations at risk.

So-called economists against the increase claim that consumers are already reeling from high food and fuel prices, the drought and a currency that should be in calipers by now. This is nonsense. They are reeling from too much beer and weed and need to be disciplined.

Apparently you have overspent by several billion rand because you completely overestimated the demand for electricity. Look, I know that Benoni used car salesman Amps van der Volt only invented electricity in 1994, but how do you overestimate demand? Are you saying you generated a whole bunch of electricity only to find nobody needed it? And they didn’t need it because you had spent years telling them not to use it? This is the kind of conversation Alice had with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare.

I’m also going to be applying for an increase this year. I haven’t had one in three years. In my line of work, there are no public hearings. There is just me whining and begging and an editor who says no. At least you can flip the switch in protest. All I can do is stop writing and go to the beach every day. Hmm.

16 thoughts on “Dear Eskom …

  1. Hemangini says:

    your articles hold so much truth and so much laughter… It makes one laugh and think .. You have a wonderful gift.

  2. Nice read humorous as well as informative. Never got that combination anywhere on blogs. Ben you are awesome…

  3. Cathy says:

    A good read. From Melbourne.

  4. Go Ben Go. Love your satire. Time to get Eskom and Nersa to be more accountable to the people.

  5. hiro812 says:

    Ensuring that tariffs are cost reflective taking into account size, locality and time of use by customers.

  6. talmarri says:

    Dr. Taleb S. Almarri
    Senior Resident of Emergency Medicine
    Saudi Board of Emergency Medicine
    King Saud University Medical City

  7. Peter Nolting says:

    I just wonder whether anyone from ESKOM will read this,that is of course whether they can actually read.Not one of the main stream publications will print it,lest they be censured by the ANC and accused of hate speech.

  8. O-ple-e-e-e-z – I (erroneously thought this increase is the brainchild of one Brian Molefe, the arrogant ex-Transnet CEO who – believe it or not – was awarded an honorary engineering degree in – I THINK Glasgow – now I wonder, did he get that degree for throwing shovelfuls of coal into the fireboxes of steam locomotives (yes, believe it or not, there ARE still several around, thanks to dedicated men and women who are going all out to preserve this precious heritage of ours) ; did he get the degree for lubricating moving parts on aforesaid locos – the big bruisers like the 25NC’s, 15F’s, 19D’s, 15CA’s, 16E’s and DA’s, et al; did the Scots notice how arrogant Molefe spent no more than 30 minutes in the shunting yards like Bayhead in the foulest of weather, making up trains according to demand to transport goods and passengers; or did he get this degree for helping to lay just a metre of track? Oops – maybe he also tried to take one of these blue “Spanish Ladies” that are not according to standard as they are too high under the wires – just think – an overhead wire touches the roof of such a blue Prasa loco and wooooshh!!!!!
    Molefe, maybe you – as CEO of Eskom now, following your VERY successful cock-up of Transnet and robbing the pensioners of their hard-earned pensions because you were the one who told them they are not entitled to anything, as they benefited under apartheid – now you’re playing the same game by grimly going flat out to rob us electricity users. How proud you must be feeling, you arrogant sod!

  9. hiro812 says:

    This was Eskom’s 2012 financial report – where is the report back on what they have achieved since then? We are good at producing documents outlining what we should do, what should be in place

  10. Ha! RSA has nothing on Ghana’s electricity! Last December our electricity went up by 50% and withholding tax went up from 5% to 15%… Yeah – stay away from the beach – just now you get a bill from Escom for absorbing free sunlight!

  11. Another sparkling gem!! great one Ben…keep ’em rolling! :0

  12. Jane says:

    This was Eskom’s 2012 financial report – where is the report back on what they have achieved since then? We are good at producing documents outlining what we should do, what should be in place, what needs to be addressed, what challenges we face ….. and fuck all useful at achieving it. And as consumers how do we hold the powers that be accountable to us – we are so beaten down with the constant mess in all kinds of arenas – its amazing we have the strength to lift our beer mugs anymore. We are being railroaded as usual. Jane

    Operational challenges
    • The high electricity price increases negatively affect the profitability and financial sustainability of Eskom’s customers and their ability to pay their electricity bills
    • Increasing number of defaulting municipalities which may have cash flow implications for Eskom
    • The management of outstanding debt in Soweto
    • Environmental levies and cross-subsidisation between customer categories are becoming an issue with large customers having to cross-subsidise residential customers
    • Ensuring that tariffs are cost reflective taking into account size, locality and time of use by customers.
    • Ensuring customers are updated on their quality of supply, as well as planned outages. Quality of supply is showing a negative trend and customer perception is that the quality of supply does not meet the required standard
    • Rollout of the Energy Conservation Scheme – ensuring that all affected customers understand process and are comfortable with the reference consumption.

    Future focus areas
    • Manage power demand by ensuring that all possible options are explored with customers regarding grid access, power buy-back, demand management participation (DMP) project, to help close the energy gap
    • Implement 500MW demand-response pilot programme, which will see small industrial and commercial undertakings reduce usage through power buy-back agreements and demand-side management initiatives
    • Continue the energy-efficiency drive in the residential market through the recently approved residential mass rollout initiative which involves going door to door to residential homes and installing energy efficient technologies including CFL bulbs, LED lamps, low flow shower heads, flow restrictors, timers and geyser blankets
    • Drive the recently implemented in¬centive programmes further into the market
    • Continue investigating new imple¬mentation and technology opportunities
    • Achieve successful outcome with remaining special pricing agreements
    • Rolling out the upgraded on-line vending system
    • Rolling out the customer service excellence programme
    • Revising the customer satisfaction questionnaires to ensure that all service aspects that are important to customers are taken into account.

  13. Godfrey says:

    Zim’s electricity is going up by 49%. In US dollars. Eskom are bloody wimps in comparison!

  14. Sonia says:

    Please don’t go to the beach everyday, ’cause then I’d have to start doing drugs….and you’re free.

  15. Sharon says:

    This is about one of the best: laugh out loud humour with acerbic contemplation. Clearly the Cape is treating you well.

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