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.




3 thoughts on “When days are dark … call Alfred

  1. Jane says:

    You are a m….. f…… starboy Ben (with thanks to The Weeknd). I presume JET is sucking up to the Glasgow conference? Forget ‘our’ children – I think there are already children foraging for locusts and fashioning crude weapons’ – just invisible like a lot of issues. Perhaps a lot of the ad and marketing people are establishing credentials and CV’s here for better jobs overseas. Can I say you get better and better as the madness goes off the charts. Viva.

  2. Mike Settas says:

    “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.” ……
    Hell, I was peeing myself reading this! Naturally, because my daily proclivities (although more likely those of the negative version thereof) will almost certainly witness me shuffling off this mortal coil prior to 2050!

  3. I agree and it’s sad that a 3 year old needs to ask their parents = Daddy – Why is the power out or Daddy – the Internet does not work (even though we have a UPS and the Wi-Fi is on) just because the Power is out they think the Internet is also off 🙂
    Great piece Ben… Cathch you in the Surf

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