Sat. Apr 20th, 2019

Load shedding: Popular conspiracy theories unpacked

load shedding eskom power outagesTwitter users are having a field day with these theories.

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Load shedding is back and with it the wild speculation about why it is that Eskom has chosen this as the time of the year to inconvenience the South African people.

With the country enduring stage 3 and stage 4 load shedding this week, the conspiracy theories fall broadly into two camps.

On the one side, President Ramaphosa’s SONA speech set the cat amongst the pigeons at the energy utility and is part of a fightback by those within Eskom opposed to the President’s proposed split of the power utility into separate business units.

“To bring credibility to the turnaround and to position South Africa’s power sector for the future, we shall immediately embark on a process of establishing three separate entities – generation, transmission and distribution – under Eskom Holdings,” Ramaphosa said as part of his SONA address.

In the other camp, Ramaphosa and his ilk are accused of preparing Eskom for privatisation which will apparently benefit Jeff Radebe and Ramaphosa via the Patrice Motsepe’s ties to the utility.

Radebe and Ramaphosa incidentally are married to Patrice Motsepe’s sisters. Union leaders are strongly opposed to privatisation.

It’s clear that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. However, as with most conspiracy theories, it’s probably with exercising some caution when people with personal interests in a conspiracy pop up with a theory.

While all of the theories seem plausible, they’re dangerous conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theorists have the amazing ability to claim knowledge about people’s intentions without having to present any evidence, all they need is motive.

In this case, both sides of the argument have looked at the same event – load shedding – and reverse-engineered it back to the SONA but for opposite reasons. If that’s not enough to give you pause, I’m not sure what is.

Read – Load shedding: Here’s what happens to South Africa at Stage 8

Every conspiracy theory becomes less probable for every additional person who has knowledge of it. There’s an old saying: three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead.

In this case, the idea that either government or Eskom are so terrible at doing their jobs but are simultaneously capable of deceiving the entire country and keeping a massive secret quiet that would involve having hundreds of Eskom employees to assist in the deceit seems highly unlikely.

As always, my warning is to steer clear of conspiracy theories in a time when there’s more than enough in the news cycle to focus on.

At best it’s a waste of your time, at worst it’ll distract you from more significant issues that deserve your attention. I know it’s hard, I’m prone to don the tinfoil hat at times myself.

Read – Stage 4 load shedding: “It comes as quite a shock” – says Cyril Ramaphosa

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