South Africans used to laugh about it – but now Eskom is just exasperating

Business Insider SA
Eskom: not a family favourite right now
  • When load shedding returned in March 2019, we found South Africans in good – if dark – humour about it.
  • By the end of 2019, fewer and fewer were joking about it.
  • Now, with the prospect of many power power outages to come throughout 2021, even bitter humour is scarce.
  • South Africa is just plain angry, and not much in the mood to be told how to make the most of electricity rationing.
  • For more stories go to

There was a time – not all that long ago – that South Africans responded to load shedding with dark humour.

But the number of people joking about electricity rationing is rapidly dwindling, especially as Eskom's own forecasts predicts blackouts for many months to come.

In March 2019, when Eskom implemented rotational blackouts for lack of generating capacity, we rounded up some of the funniest reactions to load shedding on Twitter – and found plenty to chuckle at, even if the humour was somewhat black.

Those jokes still survive on social media, as a sort of snapshot of an earlier time.

Fast forward 22 months, to Eskom's weekend presentation of "tips to beat the #Loadshedding blues", and the reaction was no longer good-humoured. The utility was met with a wave of hostility and abuse – even though Sunday had been intended to mark the final day of load shedding for a while. (The rationing, Eskom, had said, would be to prepare its system for the week ahead.)

When, on Sunday, Eskom announced it would keep load shedding in place into the start of the new week, the fury was palpable – and often terse.

Eskom's forecast of its grid's ability to handle demand is red every week for the next three months, suggesting a high likelihood of load shedding without much new or unexpected going wrong.

On a longer timescale, the forecast remains grim into the winter season too.

Eskom would not comment on whether it attempts to hold load shedding to weekends, instead telling Business Insider South Africa that "the risk of load shedding remains elevated for the better part of the year as Eskom continues to pursue the reliability maintenance whose purpose is to improve the reliability and predictability of the generation assets.

"Eskom will also always endeavour to communicate timeously should the need to implement load shedding arise," it said.

Receive a daily news update on your cellphone. Or get the best of our site emailed to you

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.

Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo