Johannesburg - Some people might have been scared that Omicron could be the Grinch that stole Christmas. It might still be; no one knows.
But what we do know is that Eskom looks hell-bent on stealing whatever prospect of a decent 2022 we might have had after almost two years of lockdown, economic stagnation and rampant joblessness.
The South Africans who have jobs have been hit by cuts in salaries, and losses in benefits and bonus cheques.
Cost of living increases have to be hard won and are often insufficient to keep our heads, metaphorically, above water – unless you are lucky enough to be a public servant.
For all of us though, Eskom’s approach to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa this week, for permission for a 20.5% increase, is a real punch in the gut, made even harder to endure by the knowledge that the City of Johannesburg has to add its cut.
But the worst realisation of all is that after 14 years of broken promises and toxic platitudes, a usurious increase of the scale it is asking for won’t guarantee less “load shedding” than we have endured this year.
Not only that, it won’t signal any commitment by the government to pivot away from a fossil fuel energy plan that is premised on the biggest coal plants in Africa, either asphyxiating us or polluting our ground water – or both.
It won’t stop the government’s flirtation with destroying the Karoo, frying our marine life with Turkish powerships or sonically devastating the Wild Coast ecosystem.
We are being told to dig deep, pay well above the inflation rate for the umpteenth time for the little we get and certainly can’t bank on to help our battered economy bounce back to create jobs.