Eskom mess a national calamity


It’s time everyone called the Eskom mess a national calamity, demanded swift action and called for all talents to come to the rescue.

South Africa is blessed with the skills needed to fix this problem. Politicians and trade unionists need to get out of the way and allow those who can, to clean up the shambles, without political and ideological interference.

We have been tip-toeing around the Eskom calamity. We have had plenty of explanations but little concrete action.

If the Eskom cure means early retirement for thousands of unnecessary Eskom employees, so be it. If it means scrapping suppliers of off-spec coal, let’s do that too.

If it means giving the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town the power to buy electricity from suppliers other than from unreliable Eskom, let’s change the law and regulations that block it.

The Western Cape is in the midst of the fruit season. Thousands depend on it. Huge amounts of foreign exchange the country badly needs are generated by it. And almost all of it depends on a regular electricity supply.

Do any of the parade of Eskom managers past and present have a clue of the scale of the damage their incompetence has caused? I doubt it. Here in the Western Cape the expected influx of tourists for the Season shows no signs of arriving. Clearly, foreigners too know what a mess we are in.

Eskom must now be forced to compete for customers like any other supplier of a service. Its monopoly is the root of the problem. Let the Western Province Government now develop its Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project which has been stalled for years. Clear away the regulatory rubble in the way. Let it build the necessary infrastructure, raise its own loans, partner with the private sector and show Eskom how it’s done.

Geoff Jacobs
President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry