The phenomenon of load shedding is a real threat to our economy. It threatens livelihood in the form of SME’s sector growth, employment rate, GDP, inflation, PPI etc. Without a reliable source of power supply, ability to run an efficient and profitable business is destroyed. How do you run a business profitably if your ability to produce is hampered by hours of power cuts that mean you and your staff can’t work? Hours that the business must pay for despite the zero production figure?
Herewith a fictional account of how small businesses and families are affected: A business man runs a small, profitable paper products manufacturing business. He employs 8 staff and works in a small, low rent industrial complex to contain costs. The complex does not have a generator and as such his business stops every time the power grid shuts him out. He pays staff for being idle, pays full rent and electricity bill (extravagant, at that), and full salaries. He makes zero production (read:profit) for 24 hours a week due to load shedding. He pays for those zero profit hours anyway. Suppose he can’t meet his rental for the month because he lost 96 hours of production that month…then he is shut off of his premises or his electricity meter is switched off by the same Eskom that failed him through their non-supply…he loses more days of productivity. So he takes a loan from the bank to keep businessgoing. Still, within a load shedding environment he can’t control. He tries to pass on the increase to his customers, they leave him for another supplier because his product is too expensive. Now his revenue is even smaller and his costs ever higher. What is he to do? He lays off a few of his staff to control costs; alas, too late. His creditors are hounding him and he still hasn’t got new customers. In fact all cost have risen due to the unprecedented petrol prices that have driven all prices of common goods up. He can’t win…he shuts the business doors to face liquidation which leaves him with debilitating debt.
He looks for a job…he has an MBA after all so maybe that secures him a decent job. The job market is tough, he is over-qualified and expensive in a market that is under duress. So he starts another business with a new loan…the cycle repeats.
Flowers on a grave. “Goodbye husband, father, brother and son. You fought the good fight”. His tombstone inscription. The wife moves with their three children back to her parents’ home in the ghetto. The children attend public schools with lawlessness and disorder, no private sessions with tutors. The culture shock is too much, they become wild and abuse substances to a point of failing to finish school.They find a NGO specializing in drug abuse and trauma…it is in someone’ s backyard who knows the deputy director of the department. There is nothing there for them. Their father’s tombstone gets stolen one day, mommy sinks into depression.She spends her days just listlessly lying there incoherent and oblivious. She needs care, but there is no one.
Little Zoe is roaming the streets in dirty clothes and can’t remember her own name. Pat is a prostitute on the side of the road filled with truck traffic, she charges a R100 per session under an hour.No one knows where the twins are. No one cares.
And so it was that a monopolistic, government entity that is plagued with corruption and fraud led to the demise of an entire family. Once doing well, the envy of their society. Now doomed forever.