The power cuts this year have been unbearable. For the first part of 2008 we've had rolling power cuts. My freezer stands constantly in a puddle of melting ice. I have to resist the urge to poke the contents to see if they are softening, because very time I open the door I let more cool air out, hastening the demise of my precious perishables. My cell phone hasn't been properly charged for the last few weeks until two days ago.
I amuse myself by imagining what ZESA must see at their end. No power being consumed during a power cut, their power dials inactive and silent; then a suddent surge of activity when they switch it on, the dials high. Followed just as quickly by a drop as a nation rushes to plug in cell phones, laptops and anything else that needs re-charging, just to tide them over through the next power cut.
A friend of mine told me how, on one high density suburb in Bulawayo, the power had been switched off for days. The evening of 31 December was just another night of darkness, until the power suddenly came on for 15 minutes over and beyond midnight. Just enough light to see in the New Year, enough power to maybe play two or three songs, and dance two or three dances.
My reaction was 'for goodness sake, that's absurd', but on reflection that was a bit harsh. I've met some of the ZESA technicians trying to keep our country in power. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes for anything. Our government doesn't pay the country's power bills and ZESA doesn't have the money to buy materials to do proper repairs. What are they meant to do?
So flicking on the power for 15 minutes so unknown citizens could 'see' in the New Year may have been a tiny gesture of kindness.
We have to say, absurd or not, that at least 2008 didn't begin with darkness (in that area anyway). Had I been that technician I think I'd have flipped the switch then rested my head against the circuit board and wept, knowing that the brief moment of happiness at power on New Year's Eve was going to be wiped out a few minutes later when darkness descended again.
It's almost a metaphor for our country today.
[tags]Zimbabwe, economy, inflation, ZESA, power, power cuts, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority[/tags]