When days are dark … call Alfred

A tweet came through from Eskom on Sunday afternoon. It said: “Just Energy Transition – Re-invigorating, rejuvenating, and redefining Eskom’s destiny as we lead the energy transition into the future. Learn more about #JET.” It was accompanied by a Photoshopped image of high-voltage lines and, like silver bullets piercing Gwede Mantashe’s coal-black heart, solar panels and wind turbines. An incandescent glow on the horizon represents either a sunrise or an explosion in the reactor of a Russian-built nuclear power station.

Fortifying myself with a shot of diesel, I clicked on the link. The first thing I learned was that Eskom’s Just Energy Transition office was established earlier this year and that it has “made significant strides to…” An involuntary sob escaped my liquescent lips. I think it’s fair to say that Oscar Pistorius has made more significant strides than Eskom has in this past year. And that’s with his leg in for repairs.

JET’s vision “focuses on achieving ‘Nett Zero’ carbon emissions by 2050”. I assume they used quote marks as an escape hatch. When it comes to plausible deniability, it’s the only thinking ahead that Eskom does. In thirty years’ time, a very old Sikonathi Mantshantsha will issue a press statement: “We didn’t say anything about net zero. We promised nett zero, which is a very different thing. We are pleased to report it’s possible that we have accomplished whatever we thought we meant in 2021.”

For the hard of thinking, Eskom helpfully provides definitions for the words “Just” and “Transition”. Perhaps they are not yet utterly without shame as they refrain from giving us the definition of “Energy”. Simply put, there is none. Not in the power stations, not in the masses of people who aren’t taking to the streets to protest this horrific state of affairs. Let us put our faith in words like “Just” and “Transition” and hope that by the time 2050 rolls around, our children aren’t spending their days foraging for locusts and fashioning crude weapons to hunt down the generation that allowed this to happen.

Eskom’s vision and strategy for this JET malarkey strikes me as having been drafted in a shitty little prefab by two people texting their boyfriends while a man in a cheap suit stands at a white board with a finger up his nostril.

Twenty minutes after reassuring us that we’ll all be in a much better place in 2050 (I certainly will – I’ll be dead), Eskom sent another tweet informing us that stage 2 load shedding would continue throughout the week. Their timing at least suggests that someone there understands dramatic irony. I mean, nobody can be that bad at corporate messaging, right?

Who in their right mind goes from promising us “a cleaner and greener energy future” and “new exciting jobs” and a “greater preservation of biodiversity” to telling us, in the very next breath, to prepare for a return to the Stone Age?

To their credit, though, Eskom did preface it’s warning with the word “Regretfully”. It suggests there are people at Megatwatt Park who feel our pain. It hints at empathy. However, while an expression of regret is many things, it is not an apology. For example, it might not have been all that effective if the National Party had put a notice in Die Volkstem in 1948 saying, “Regretfully, black people will henceforth be segregated and denied the vote. This will continue until 1994. Please bear with us.”

Less than 24 hours later, we were dragged from stage 2 and dashed upon the rocks of stage 4. This time without the “regretfully”. Also on Monday, we were informed that “Alfred, Eskom’s chatbot, has assisted over 500 000 customers in just 4 months”. We need to come out in our millions and demand that Alfred be made CEO.

Anyway. It’s important to stay positive. For the children’s sake, you understand. It’s hard enough explaining why they’re too young to watch political parties stripping off and getting jiggy.

“But I thought they hated each other,” they say in their tremulous little voices. It’s the responsibility of our education department to explain that while no one has sex in a political ménage à trois, it doesn’t mean that someone isn’t getting screwed.

It’s bad enough that we have to cover their eyes to spare them the grotesque sight of the ANC with its head up its own ass devouring itself from the inside. Rat snakes have been known to do that. The ANC should have one on their logo.

So. Games to keep the kiddies distracted this week as the country joins the Blue Train in going off the rails. Blind Man’s Buff. Big saving on blindfolds because nobody can see anything anyway.

Marco Polo. Instead of shouting “Marco”, you shout “Who’s there?” And instead of shouting “Polo”, someone else shouts “Shut the fuck up and open the safe.” Not really for children.

Musical chairs, except there’s no music because the power’s gone and dad has sold the chairs to pay off a gambling debt. Works best with lashings of alcohol.

Indoor bowling. Set up all the empty wine bottles and throw things at them. There are no rules and nobody wins. More of an adult game.




Get insurance against the insurers

Dear Comrade Johann Le Roux, CEO of Momentum Life.

Congratulations on steadfastly refusing to fork out R2.4-million to the widow of that 42-year-old Durban man who died while trying to protect his wife in a hijacking. Why was she even trying to claim in the first place? If you were in the business of giving money willy-nilly to families of policy-holders who get themselves killed, you would call yourselves Momentum Death.

But be that as it may. Dying is bad for business, especially when you’re in the life insurance industry. You pay a high price every time a customer dies. It seems terribly unfair. People these days make no effort at all to stay alive.

It seems, though, that some also think it’s terribly unfair that you are refusing to pay out on the grounds that Nathan Ganas had not disclosed his raised blood sugar levels when he took out the policy four years ago. For all we know, people with too much sugar in their blood attract violent criminals wherever they go. Let’s not forget that bees are also attracted to sweet stuff like pollen and cocaine, and you know how dangerous they are. It could easily be the same with hijackers. Studies have yet to be done into the link between homicide and diabetes.

Living in Shallcross, Ganas should have appreciated there was a better than average chance of getting murdered and should therefore have informed Momentum about his medical condition. If he was aware of it. But even if he wasn’t, that’s no excuse for non-disclosure.

Denise Ganas says she didn’t know about her husband’s condition. I believe her. My ex-wife would often say things like, “There’s something wrong with you.” Or, if she was in one of her better moods, she might ask, “What the hell’s the matter with you?” I would look at my feet and make whimpering sounds until she went away. My point is that we don’t always know what is wrong with ourselves, our loved ones or even the mentally unwell people we keep voting for.

Everyone tries their luck when it comes to insurance claims and you need to remain vigilant. For instance, you don’t want to be paying millions to the widow of a man who, say, dies in a plane crash if the post mortem reveals he had a high blood alcohol content when the pilot mistook a mountain for a cloud. It is vital that you include “Drunk” as a pre-existing condition to avoid payouts in cases like these.

Times are tough. Momentum only earned R2.8-billion in the last year. You need to save every cent you can. And yet you have buckled under pressure and agreed to refund the premiums paid by the Ganas family. This is ridiculously generous and sets a dangerous precedent. Policyholders will be flinging themselves off buildings on the assumption that the family will get the premiums back. Actually, I suppose the grieving relatives would initially expect the policies to be paid out in full, but once you have pointed out that their beloved’s application forms are riddled with omissions, spelling errors, coffee stains and so on, they will be happy just to get their parking validated.

Make sure they provide an affidavit indicating that parking has indeed taken place.