Eskom fiasco calls for diligent leadership

The electricity crisis currently gripping the entire nation illustrates how countries with potential to become successful nations quickly turn into failed states if they are not politically well managed.

As reported elsewhere in this newspaper today, for many years the government has ignored calls and advice to remove obstacles in the way of private sector intervention in the generation of energy and electricity.

For many years, leaders in the ANC-led government failed to build new power stations when they knew that Eskom was not, as former finance minister Tito Mboweni points out, designed for the current population, industrial size and demand, but was constructed for the interests of a small white population. The ageing infrastructure was ignored when all signs were there that it was soon going to become a source of national disaster.

South Africans cannot, and must also never ignore how the political elite – especially under Jacob Zuma – turned Eskom into one of their biggest cash cows,  which was used as a feeding trough for a corrupt band of political scoundrels and their associates. It would be foolhardy to turn a blind eye – as some would like us to – and pretend not to know how this feeding frenzy almost brought Eskom to its knees, which largely also accounts for the current state of the utility.

The mixture of our collective pain, anger and hopelessness that permeates the air as the Eskom crisis deepens, suddenly makes us feel that this once-promising republic is destined to become another failed African state – reminiscent of many banana republics, which failed to manage their own political affairs.

The situation is sadly also ripe for political opportunism and adventurism. Debates have tended to be too simplistic and politically expedient. The crisis appears to be providing fertile ground for political mischief. To think that Eskom’s problems will simply disappear overnight if CEO Andre de Ruyter is shown the door is politically self-serving, if not reckless.

How strange that we also witnessed this week some of the brazen thieves who contributed greatly to the destruction of Eskom being extolled and given space in the media to propagate lies that they are the ones capable of fixing it. This is a load of fake news twaddle, which is only designed to generate confusion and mistrust.

South Africans must remain calm and resist the temptation to give space to imposters who parade themselves as Eskom’s saviours, when they are, in fact, the creators of its current woes. Their only motive is to divert attention from their active participation in destroying Eskom.

To add salt to the wound, the situation is made worse as cabinet ministers,  who are expected to steer us out of this quagmire, are apparently at each other’s throats when “Rome is burning”.

President Cyril Ramaphosa needs to wake up and realise that both Gwede Mantashe and Pravin Gordhan are not fit to lift Eskom out of the current morass.

The Eskom situation calls for diligent leadership that will ensure stability at the power utility. Political failure is the main reason Eskom finds itself in its state of near collapse.


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