Eskom's brilliant new business model

David Bullard on the SOE's plan to make you pay for not using their terrible service


Last week the power went out in my area. This time though it wasn’t the usual load-shedding which is something we can prepare for. Or rather, that used to be the case. These days it’s marginally more challenging than WORDLE because load-shedding, like death and taxes, can creep up on you unannounced.

One minute the Eskom website is confidently predicting that there will be no load-shedding and then, before you can say Benjamin Franklin (or whoever you believe ‘invented’ electricity), another couple of thousand units of whatever it is the power stations spew out has gone missing; either due to negligence, sabotage or miscalculation and poor former FM journalist Sikonato Mantshantsha has to come on the radio to explain what is going on and ask us all to use much less of the only product Eskom sells and wants to charge us much more to purchase in the future.

The latest ruse is apparently to charge those of us who had the audacity to spend the price of a small car to install solar panels a monthly penalty fee of just under R1000 for the privilege of simply being connected to the grid. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

As a solar power user I have thought long and hard about this and think it is a business idea way ahead of its time. The business world has thus far been far too hidebound by conventional thinking. Vulgar capitalists such as Apple just want to sell you a laptop or an iPhone and then flog you a few more accessories.

My wife bought herself a new MacBook Air a few months ago and when she got it home she looked down the side of her new, admittedly superfast, computer for the various holes to accommodate USB connections, memory cards from your camera and the like. Nothing.

The only holes on the side of the latest MacBook Air are there to allow you to charge it and you must thank Tim Cook that he didn’t charge you extra for that. If you want to do the sort of things with your laptop that you were able to do ten years ago you have to spend an additional R4-5000 to get an attachment that accepts all the things you may want to plug in. Even a charger cord for an iPhone will set you back R500 and a plastic cover much the same.

I bought a new iPhone last week and opted for the cheapest model because the only difference I could see between the cheapest model and one of the top of the range (apart from a price differential of around R15000) is that the top of the range have better cameras.

Since I already have a couple of Nikons plus lenses I’m not really interested in something like that. After all, how many iPhones do you see pointed at sports events as opposed to the long white Canon zoom lenses? And what self-respecting international model is going to peel off her clothing and allow herself to be photographed for the cover of Vogue with an i-Phone? Get real.

The only problem with my iPhone is that it no longer has a socket for a set of headphones. So all I have to do is spend yet more money on another piece of wire or, better still, blow nearly five grand on something called AirPods in a cute little charging case. Just to listen to the occasional video or some music. You have to be kidding me.

But back to Eskom’s way ahead business plan. When Apple sell me something and then sell me something else to make it work properly at least I am getting something tangible for my money. But there have been production costs and marketing costs that have gone into that product not to mention distribution costs and the enormous rental costs of iStores around the world so you can see some sort of logic.

The Eskom plan though is simply mind blowing and one must assume that some of the finest brains (sic) within the ANC are behind it. The new proposal for solar converts is to sell absolutely nothing apart from the privilege of possibly doing business with them at a later stage. As I understand it, that slightly less than R1000 a month simply allows you membership to access grid generated electricity at an extra cost should you feel the need to do so.

The scheme is obviously not aimed at the ‘poorest of the poor’ but at the rich bastards who can afford to give the middle finger to Eskom and install solar panels, lithium batteries and inverters to allow them to carry on their disgusting capitalist practices and lead near normal lives even when the heavily looted national electricity supplier let’s them down. The many commies in the ANC will see this as a just punishment.

Taken to my normal illogical extremes why not extend this visionary new business model to other areas of business? For example, top class restaurants in the Western Cape could identify potential targets, such as those who are ordering takeaways or eating at home, and tell them to stump up R1500 for the opportunity of a six course meal with wine pairing that they don’t actually want. And if they do want it in the future naturally the cost of the meal is in addition to the levy.

After the news broke of the penalty clause that Eskom was proposing to introduce for those who had made alternate arrangements, partly in despair and partly in desperation, there was some suggestion that Eskom might be persuaded to buy back some of the excess power generated through solar panels.

This is a perfectly normal practice in other parts of the world but South Africa is not a country where normal practices are much in evidence. So unless a way is discovered for the cadres to steal the monetary value of whatever excess power my solar panels feed back into the grid I don’t see this idea flying.


One of the problems of an extended power outage as opposed to the two and a half hour load shedding is that life comes to a complete halt. This isn’t an altogether bad thing since there’s no fibre connectivity and so the temptation to log onto the laptop and read all the latest bad news from around the world doesn’t exist. However, as the power outage drags on and the freezer warms from -20C to +3C a certain panic sets in. Banking has to be done, some urgent e.mails need to be dealt with and the batteries on the cell-phone (your only connection to the outside world) are already perilously low at 32%.

Supposing the power is out for another 24 hours? How will you survive?

Fortunately, our power outage had been caused by a problem at the local substation and was back on after about fifteen hours.

But in that time the backup batteries had run flat and were sending out a distressing bleep and it wasn’t yet light enough for the solar panels to kick in. Which made me think about this cashless society that the New World Order enthusiasts seem so keen on. Personally, I like carrying cash but I’m finding more and more places (most recently Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens) refusing to accept it.

Which is fine if you have a card which works. But it does rather put you at the mercy of any future social credit enthusiasts who feel that your credit card should be cancelled, Chinese style, if you haven’t been loyal to the state or if you have upset somebody on social media.

Frivolity aside though, what could possibly go wrong with our current reliance on the internet and the great digital age? Well, practically everything actually. Last week Capitec Bank customers experienced all sorts of problems with online banking as have other banks in the past.

It’s not hard to believe that all ATM’s could be jammed by some cyber-terrorist in the future or that the entire internet could be blocked making any financial transactions or communication virtually impossible. That would affect the logistics industry and the movement of goods and foodstuffs but since you wouldn’t be able to pay for them anyway that’s probably not too important.

Reliable electricity supply and reliable connectivity have become our lifelines and neither are guaranteed. It’s a frightening thought but here’s something even worse. Last week I asked a couple of twenty somethings if they owned any CD’s. They didn’t because they download everything from the internet.

It’s now almost impossible to buy a CD other than online or in a charity shop. 

The CD revolution came and disappeared in under 40 years and as the owner of a good many of them I haven’t a clue what to do with them other than send them to landfill. Or maybe listen to them one more time before the electricity goes out for good.


It’s quite possible that Dr Nicholas Crisp is one of the most dangerous men in South Africa. He is the Deputy Director General of the Department of Health and a zealous supporter of the proposed NHI the government is so keen to introduce. Being of pale complexion Dr Crisp doesn’t frighten the horses nearly as much as someone like Dr “Sleazy” Mkhize would but he still remains scary.

In an interview with Carte Blanche over the weekend he said “there are provisions in existing legislation which allow us to do things better than how we are doing them now, but you need the management skills to be able to do that”.

That sounds suspiciously like a massive admission of failure to me and quite why you would need provisions in legislation to allow you to do the job better is unclear. Dr Crisp also admitted that there is a shortage of efficiencies within the health sector but said there is no shortage of money.

Only half right on that one Doc… there is a massive shortage of money which is why most municipalities and SOE’s are in such dire straits. Pretending that financing is no object to the introduction of NHI is just a downright lie.

Having admitted that there is a shortage of efficiencies one might wonder whether Dr Crisp thinks that the introduction of an ANC run NHI might not tempt medical professionals to seek greener pastures.

And on that note, the doctor niece mentioned in my 26 July column has landed in Ireland and the hospital she is working at have already offered her a two year contract before she has even started work. That is how much SA trained medics are valued overseas. She has also discovered that some of her new colleagues are fellow UCT graduates who have also decided to abandon the disastrous SA public health system. If Dr Crisp has his way many more will surely follow.