Eskom: The Utility That Can No Longer Be Managed
With The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) announcing its decision to approve Eskom’s plan to increase the electricity tariff, many have expressed their anger and frustration at this decision. The fact remains: with all the changes in Eskom that have happened over the years, one thing has not changed, load shedding.
In 2007, load shedding was first introduced to South Africans within five months of Jacob Maroga landing the job as Eskom CEO. Fast forward, over a decade and a half later, more than ten CEOs, replacements in the Eskom board, and the resignation of current Eskom CEO, Andre de Ruyter, and not much has improved since.
Citizens are growing frustrated each day that passes, with promises of solutions as each new crisis emerges. These promises have become meaningless, with actions certainly beginning to speak louder than words.
With the conversation of seeking private sources of power within the country being a topic of debate, the Eskom crisis has made it more difficult to play devil’s advocate for the power utility. However, the failure of a State-Owned Enterprise is not new and should not shock us. South African Airways is an airline that relied on state bail-outs to stay running, with their eventual collapse seeing the private sector sweeping in to save the day.
Despite the argument of the private sector prioritising profit over the needs of the people, one can’t help but see that Eskom doesn’t prioritise the needs of the people either. The proposal of a 32-percent tariff increase by the utility is enough to show this.
Despite Nersa reducing this to 18.65 percent, this still speaks volumes to how Eskom views consumers. Not a day goes past without a generation facility breaking down or more allegations of sabotage of power stations. So the question remains: "What is it that citizens are paying for?"
The glimmer of hope of Eskom being fixed has long been dimmed, just like our lights. With 13 CEOs that have come and gone in the utility in less than ten years, surely one sees this as a problem. Eskom has become a utility that can no longer be managed and with the ongoing energy crisis we find ourselves in, South Africa is set to be in the dark for much longer.
Despite the crisis of Eskom, we find ourselves in an even bigger crisis as a country: the silencing of individuals who fight against organised crime.
It has been almost a week since news broke of Eskom CEO, Andre de Ruyter, surviving a murder attempt, allegedly a day after announcing his resignation. Similarly, it has also been a week since the alleged failed assassination attempt on Fort Hare University Vice Chancellor, Sakhela Buhlungu, which left his driver and bodyguard, Mboneli Vesele at the receiving end of death.
Both incidents are nothing out of the ordinary of what happens to many individuals in various sectors across our country. Unfortunately, we have created an environment where we praise whistle-blowers for doing what's right, but fail to protect them.
Those who strive to expose wrongs are silenced by those who benefit from this wrongdoing, leaving such sectors in the continuous cycle of turning the blind eye to corruption and the destruction of these sectors and the state.
The issue of Eskom has inevitably become a political issue, with the criticism of De Ruyter presenting itself in the statements from the utility's board and the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe. Needless to say, that has somewhat played a role in his choice to resign from his position as CEO of Eskom.
With De Ruyter set to leave the position of Eskom CEO in March this year, one can only speculate who will replace him. His alleged murder attempt could potentially see fewer people step up to assume this role, but moreover, the hopelessness and the consistent blame game towards Eskom management is enough to push any potential candidate away.
Perhaps, we will see an act of cadre deployment in the near future. Cadre or not, we, as the people no longer care for the positions of management in this troubled power utility. We instead, plead only for the restoration of faith in Eskom and other State-owned Enterprises.
For the sake of our economy and the sustainability of our land, let there be light!