Why Pravin Gordhan is wrong about Eskom

Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Public Enterprises.
Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Public Enterprises.
Felix Dlangamandla

I've got full faith that Cyril Ramaphosa and Pravin Gordhan are fixing what's broken, but they should take responsibility for mistakes they are partially responsible for, writes James de Villiers.

Candles lit the kitchen of Franks, a quaint coffee shop in Cape Town's Bree Street, moments after Eskom failed South Africa again. 

A grey-haired gentleman, probably in his late 50s, screamed "oh fuck - not again" as the rest of the restaurant nodded their heads in agreement. 

A distressed manager ordered the barista to try to make filter coffee with the remaining beans – potential customers having already turned away during the breakfast rush hour.  This is how Eskom, South Africa's embattled state-owned power utility, is strangling small businesses to death. And the ANC is to blame. 

This year marks 10 years since loadshedding was first introduced in South Africa – 10 years of repeated broken promises to fix a dysfunctional system. 

On Thursday morning, a day before Eskom forced Franks' roughly 10 staff to a standstill, public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan took South Africa in his confidence. 

Seated alongside Eskom's executive at its headquarters in Sandton, after a week of rolling blackouts across South Africa, Gordhan blamed everyone except himself and the ANC for Eskom's failures. 

Instead, he shifted all responsibility to his predecessor who apparently ran a department without an energy expert, and "state capture". 

As Eskom's chairperson Jabu Mabuza proceeded to ludicrously blame the entire South Africa for Eskom's failures, Gordhan seemed to have forgotten that he has been a card-carrying member of the ANC since the 1970s. 

He seemed to forget that he sat quietly for most of the past 10 years as Eskom's treasures were carried away. 

South Africa is a country of second chances, we love the underdog and we forgive – perhaps too easily – but we should not grow disillusioned that the ANC today is the same ANC who sold the soul of South Africa to the highest bidder. 

Despite a renewed sense of direction within the ANC, we should still keep the party accountable for how it and its current leadership failed this nation.

I've got full faith that President Cyril Ramaphosa and Gordhan are fixing what's broken, but they should take responsibility for mistakes they are partially responsible for. 

Their hands are not clean – they are not saints walking amongst mere mortals. 

They should humbly, overwhelmed with gratefulness that South Africa gave them another chance lead every day seeking to re-earn the respect of the people. 

Despite our politicians shifting blame for the issues plaguing the nation, desperately trying to rewrite the narrative, South Africans go on. 

Franks made filter coffee to serve to clients, using a battery-powered till, as the sound of generators started roaring across the Cape Town CBD. 

Our collective stubbornness keeps us focussed on survival: making plans, bypassing obstacles whenever something gets in our way. Nothing is ever too big not to overcome. 

Our collective humour lightens the load while we joke about the Guptas, e-tolls and Eskom – another meme going viral on WhatsApp. 

Because, while the politicians fail us, we make plans to keep moving forward. 

The nation's burdens are carried by its people who face muggings and hijackings, a dysfunctional transport system, hours of travel and an ever-increasing fuel price just to get to work. 

That's the secret to our survival, and that, Pravin Gordhan, is what will ultimately save us. 

- De Villiers is a journalist at Business Insider South Africa.

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