Secrets and Lies

SABC recently started with a service called Power Alert (very much like Terror Alert) between 18:00 and 21:00 Monday to Friday. To quote from their website:

A map of the country will be shown with colour coding to indicate four status levels. These are Green, to show no strain on the grid - Orange, indicating increasing strain - Brown, showing significant strain - and Red, to warn that load shedding and power cuts are imminent. Consumers are advised to switch off stoves, kettles, air conditioning and any unnecessary lights until a Green or Orange status is shown for their area.

Well about three nights ago I find myself aimlessly flipping through the channels when the Power Alert comes on. It is then that I notice something fishy: SABC 3 was showing orange, whilst SABC 1 and 2 were showing green.

Only Eskom National Control Centre, situated in Germiston, knows what the power situation is in South Africa at any given time, as it is their responsibility to control supply for the entire South Africa. Yet when the question was posed to one of the senior control managers, he said that he has absolutely no idea where SABC is getting their information, as only he and the handful of people working under him at Eskom would know the power situation at any given moment, and nobody was asking them.

This reminds me of a World War Two story, where at the height of the war the British government requested its citizens to hand in all metal pots and pans for use in the war economy. Almost everybody immediately started collection drives, and massive mountains of pots and pans were formed, which was trucked away by the government and dumped. There was no need for the alloy used in pots and pans, you see. It was just to let the public feel that they are contributing, that they are good citizens.

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