The best that can be said about the new round of Eskom electricity tariff increases is that they are not as bad as they might have been.
We are still looking at three years of above inflation increases with the bitter knowledge that every time we pay for electricity we are paying for corruption and incompetent management.
Naturally we are pleased that Nersa has curbed Eskom demands but this does not solve the problem. It is now up to Eskom to cut its costs.
It is time to ask questions about how many jobs Eskom has destroyed in the last decade when electricity tariffs were increased by about 300%.
We know that that half the foundries in the country have had to close down because they could not afford the electricity. The aluminium smelters have closed down and how many mine shafts have been put on care and maintenance? Perhaps even worse is the number of mining and industrial projects that have been put on hold or cancelled because the price of electricity made them uneconomic.
We also want to know why Eskom was unable to collect debts from many municipalities which together owed R38 billion for electricity.
Some people pay and some people don’t. The situation is unacceptable. We want to see Eskom recovering the stolen money.
Nevertheless some good would come out of the crisis. Businesses and domestic consumers would be spending a lot more money on renewable energy and that would create many jobs all over the country and improve energy security at the same time. In the long run this will not help Eskom but what else are we to do?