What Madiba told the Eskom chief

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Nelson Mandela told Eskom's former head before democracy to not change anything, 'as long as you continue to produce cheap electricity and connect more black South Africans to the grid.' (Photo: File/AFP)
Nelson Mandela told Eskom's former head before democracy to not change anything, 'as long as you continue to produce cheap electricity and connect more black South Africans to the grid.' (Photo: File/AFP)

Johannesburg - In the dying days of apartheid, the head of South Africa's power utility, the central pillar of the white-run economy, sat down with Nelson Mandela and asked him a simple question: when you take office, what are you going to do with Eskom?

The answer from South Africa's future president was equally simple: nothing, as long as you continue to produce cheap electricity and connect more black South Africans to the grid.

"'We do not wish to interfere with what you are doing and how you are doing it because you know the electricity business. We don't,'" then-chief executive Ian McRae, now 85, recalled Mandela telling him over lunch in the early 1990s.

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