DAILY MAVERICK WEBINAR
The answer to blackouts? Emigrating or not voting for the ANC are among the solutions, a survey finds
How are South African taxpayers affected by load shedding? Who do they believe is to blame, and what do they think are the solutions to our power problems? A new report provides insight into the real cost of our electricity crisis.
‘Our lives are massively impacted by load shedding… But perhaps the most devastating effect of load shedding isn’t physical, it’s emotional,” said Brandon de Kock, director of storytelling for Brandmapp, during a Daily Maverick webinar to discuss the SA Blackout Report on Tuesday.
De Kock spoke to Daily Maverick associate editor Ferial Haffajee and Business Maverick journalist Neesa Moodley about the new report by BrandMapp-Silverstone, which looks at the impact load shedding is having on taxpaying South Africans.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “ ‘People are broken’ — Daily Maverick readers describe toll rolling blackouts take on their health and businesses”
During the webinar, Haffajee said the SA Blackout Report amplified what Daily Maverick readers have been saying in response to its surveys – that they are “completely kneecapped by the power cuts” that reached unprecedented levels in 2022.
Haffajee said reader responses show that people don’t have the means to invest in expensive equipment such as surge protectors, inverters, batteries or by installing solar panels.
On this issue, the SA Blackout Report found that lower-income households had been significantly more affected in terms of physical damage to equipment and household appliances.
Curiously, the single biggest solution to dealing with rolling blackouts for middle-income taxpayers, the report found, was to purchase candles – 79% of taxpayers earning between R10,000 and R20,000 a month cited candles as their load shedding quick fix. The same goes for 57% of taxpayers earning between R20,000 and R40,000 a month.
(Maverick Life reporter Malibongwe Tyilo unpacks here why surge protectors are important for appliances.)
Load shedding is hurting South Africans in more ways than one, and the implications go far beyond social, economic or work disruptions.
“It is harming our mental health as well,” said Haffajee.
When asked by Moodley what the responses said about how people were coping, De Kock responded: “Not nearly as well as you may think.”
Ditching the dark
During the webinar, one attendee asked whether the survey had asked people if they had ever considered emigrating as a result of load shedding.
In response to the survey, 44% of participants said they had considered leaving the country. Additionally, 58% of respondents under the age of 35 said they had considered emigrating.
“That’s not a good statistic… The people who want to go are young, highly skilled people who are looking at a future that has nothing to do with ethnicity or culture – it simply has to do with prospects for a good life. Why sit around in a country with no power?” said De Kock.
“It’s very sad, but that’s the reality.”
Crime and corruption
Most of the survey’s respondents – 92% – believed crime and corruption were Eskom’s main problems.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Introducing the four crime cartels that have brought Eskom and South Africa to their knees”
Following this, 82% believed the main problem at Eskom was government incompetence; 63% believed the ANC’s controversial policy of cadre deployment was the main culprit, while 61% argued the main issue was a lack of political will to solve the 15-year crisis.
“People are going to make very different voting choices next year and they’re going to do so because of power cuts, corruption and government incompetence,” said Haffajee.
According to survey responses, 65% of middle-income taxpayers are seriously considering not voting for the ANC as a means to solve the power crisis, while 62% of respondents said they had considered not voting for the ruling party in 2024 in order to solve the crisis.
“It speaks to fairly rapid socio-political change,” remarked De Kock.
The percentage of respondents in each province who have considered not voting for the ANC in 2024, are:
- 60% of respondents in Gauteng;
- 62% of respondents in KwaZulu-Natal; and
- 67% of respondents in the Western Cape.
The 2021 local government elections saw a record low voter turnout.
Wrapping up the webinar, De Kock left viewers with something to think about:
“If everybody under the age of 40 in South Africa, who is currently eligible to vote but are not registered, voted for the same party in the next election, that party would win… It’s an extraordinary stat.” DM
Subscribe to the Daily Maverick webinar newsletter and keep up to date on our upcoming conversations.