Power fiasco

2008-03-22 00:00

The Eskom saga continues, becoming daily more complicated and bewildering. Not long after the electricity shortage became known, the organisation requested an 18% increase in tariffs and was granted 14%. Now, however, the demand for an increase has escalated despite the injection of R60 billion from the Treasury: the figure of 60% is being mentioned.

What’s especially alarming about this is that government, instead of stepping in and insisting on thrashing the matter out with Eskom before the economy is ruined, seems to be as baffled as the general public and is sitting about wringing its hands. Thus, a couple of days ago, senior ANC NEC member Jessie Duarte, usually confident on matters of policy, was heard on radio wondering what Eskom thought it was doing. Thus, also, the ANC this week called on Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin to approach Eskom, saying that the poor would be adversely affected by such a huge increase.

And so, as we prepare for a difficult winter — and, indeed, a difficult decade, electrically speaking — there are questions urgently requiring answers.

Why, since the government has prevented Eskom from making long-term decisions, has the government not intervened and taken a major role in the parastatal’s management, instead of letting it blunder on? How is it that this monstrous tariff demand was permitted to coincide with huge — and continuing — increases in fuel prices? Surely even the meanest intelligence must grasp that these two things in combination will, because they’ll generate increased prices across the board, send up inflation and, again, affect consumers, of whom the poorest will suffer most? Why has Eskom been permitted to take what almost seems to be a vindictive or punitive stance towards consumers and why does it continually send out mixed messages? For example, it speaks now of reducing numbers of power stations, now of recommissioning old ones, now of supplying every home in the country with electricity, now of curbing construction and other development. All the while we’re realising that even as we pay more and more for electricity, we’ll be getting less and less of it, and that we’ll actually be punished for not fulfilling certain electricity-use criteria.

The message hidden in all this is that Eskom is run by total incompetents, people drawing vast salaries and taking massive bonuses, yet unable to predict and work towards fulfilling this developing country’s power needs. Buried here, too, is the reason why the government is apparently hamstrung, unable to step in and devise short-term crisis management and longer-term strategies so that the country can continue its socio-economic growth into the future. So the final question here is, why, instead of dealing swiftly and decisively with the electricity crisis, is the government standing back and behaving just like another angry spectator?

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Sales Representative- Knysna

George - Knysna
George Employment Consultants
R15 000.00 Per Month Per Month

Audit Senior / Bookkeeper to Trial Balance

Cape Town Southern Suburbs
Placement Point (Pty) Ltd
R15 000.00 - R21 000.00 Per Month

Key Accounts - IT

Southern Shore Recruitment
R15 000.00 - R25 000.00 Per Month

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.