Home » Opinion » From the On the Contrary column: Yes, Eskom is the ANC’s mess

From the On the Contrary column: Yes, Eskom is the ANC’s mess

WINTER was in the air, driving the confederacy of convivial conversationalists inside to our regular corner at the local Pub and Grill, to address the problems of our village, the nation and the world. Admittedly, some in our company failed to grasp the gravity of the occasion.

“Howzit!” hollered Luke the Dude. “Don’t you even have drinks yet? My my, is The Governor slipping up or am I embarrassingly early?”

“Useless!” greeted Jon the Joker. “Not early at all, Lucas, not early. But yes, embarrassing!” This gave our sweet bartender the opportunity to serve the orders, complete with Luke’s own large draught. “Cheers to good service!” toasted Stevie the Poet, and so cheered all of us.

“Please, ladies, gentlemen and, with respect, others, let’s not get started on Russia’s butchery-in-plain-sight,” requested The Prof, “we have enough home-hatched crimes in our local kakistocracy.”

“Which crime springs to mind, Prof?” enquired Miss Lily charmingly.

“To me,” obliged The Prof, “the most dangerous is the long-continuing raping and pillaging of Eskom, aided and abetted by corruption and sabotage. As I speak, André de Ruyter’s best efforts to salvage something from the wreckage are being sabotaged by felonious operators, ranging from cabinet ministers to petty gangsters.”

“Draw me another lager,” ordered Big Ben, “The Prof is making me nervous; it can’t be that bad.”

“Useless!” differed Jon the Joker. “Make that another round!”

“On the contrary, Ben,” seconded Bill the Beard. “It is indeed that bad – spelling it out will exercise more than your nerves.”

“What makes it worse,” worried Irene the Queen, “is that the alarm bells have been ringing since the blackouts in 2008. This has been getting worse for 14 years.”

“If only that were true,” sighed Bill the Beard. “To grasp the full extent of the ANC’s culpability, we have to go back to 1994, when the April elections transferred power to the ANC. That was 28 years ago.”

“I do not agree,” argued Big Ben. “In 1994 Eskom was a world-class utility, admired for its expertise in producing ample electricity reliably and cheaply. So, what are you complaining about?”

“Useless!” agitated Jon the Joker. “What indeed! Thanks to the ANC, Eskom now produces too little electricity unreliably and at sky-high prices.”

“Quite right,” continued the bearded Bill, “Ben is correct about the success of Eskom in and before the nineties. It is also true that the mothballing of power stations began before 1994. But the transition brought developments that changed the facts. Firstly, South Africa was no longer being boycotted by most of the world and industrialisation resumed on steroids – rapidly increasing electricity demand. Secondly, the ANC stepped up electrification at a massive rate – which was admirable – raising the demand further and faster. So what would you expect Government as the only shareholder of Eskom to do?”

“Start building power stations, I should think,” ventured Miss Lily. “Prepare to meet the rising demand with more electricity.”

“Elementary, my dear Watson,” agreed Bill. “But what did the ANC do instead? Decided that Eskom under the Nats produced too much electricity. So they mothballed a number of power stations, reducing supply in the face of fast rising demand. With easily predictable results.”

“They were given expert advice that they were heading for trouble,” remarked Stevie the Poet, “but did they take any notice? Naaah.”

“At the same time,” Bill held forth, “and at a quickening pace when Thabo Mbeki became president, the ANC enforced their policies of cadre deployment and affirmative action way beyond the boundaries of racism, steadily replacing the world-class experts who had made Eskom great with ANC deployees.

“Power stations such as Camden were meanwhile recommissioned to address the ever-rising demand, but by Black Friday, 25 January 2008, Government declared a national electricity emergency. The next year, in May 2009, the Zuma presidency hit the fan and the era of state capture, with ballooning looting and corruption, invaded South Africa and divided the ANC.

“We’ve seen what that can do in July last year, when one ANC faction instigated an insurrection against the other – wiping more than R50-billion off the economy, in the words of President Cyril Ramaphosa, and destroying the jobs of nearly two million people.”

“Meantime,” reminded Stevie, after hundreds of billions and 14 years of organised crime, corruption, incompetence and wilful destruction, the ‘new’ blackout banishers Medupi and Kusile are still hobbling along on crutches.”

“Then last month,” contributed The Prof, “we saw the spectacle of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Scopa, summoning the recently appointed board members and the CEO of Eskom, André de Ruyter – formerly CEO of Nampak and Senior Group Executive: Operations of Sasol – to face the music.

“Chairing the ANC-dominated meeting looking for someone else to blame, was the singularly clueless IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa.

“As we’ve seen, Eskom board member Busisiwe Mavuso spoke her mind. ‘What we will not accept,’ she said, ‘is to have this board and André as the fall guy for the mess that this organisation is currently experiencing; because the reality of the matter is that this is not our mess. We have been brought in to clean it up …   We cannot be the fall guy for this ANC-led government.’

“Hlengwa responded by losing his cool.  An ANC voice complained that they did not come there to be insulted, to which Mavuso responded, ‘It’s not an insult, it’s facts’. And to another who asked, what is facts, she confirmed ‘that this is the mess of the ANC-led government’.  Hlengwa scolded her to either ‘behave yourself’ or leave.

“Of course, she excused herself and left.  And later, after listening to the wiser counsel of the IFP leadership, Hlengwa apologised to her. By then the DA was already calling on the Speaker of Parliament to take action against Hlengwa for HIS behaviour.

“That was not the end of it, but I believe we can safely agree with Ms. Mavuso that Eskom’s mess is indeed the ANC’s mess.”

Big Ben objected, but with glasses high, the convivial comrades cheered to Give That Prof a Bell’s.



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