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When pondering the chronic power crisis affecting South Africa one is reminded of the term ineptocracy: “A system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.”
There is not much point in pondering as to what things might have been had the airliner in 1960 carrying half-American British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan crashed on its way to South Africa. The premier’s notorious Winds of Change speech on February 3 sounded the death knell on a republic which in terms of prestige was equal to the then United States and Canada.
Today, rolling blackouts in South Africa are largely responsible for the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrinking more than predicted. Official data shows a drop of 1.4% between October and December, instead of the 0.4% predicted.
The impact of power outages was bound to have a knock-on effect on the republic’s economy. Only two days of the October to December period were free of power cuts. Businesses have been paralyzed by the disruptions. Production costs soar as they are forced to purchase alternative resources.
Seven out of South Africa’s 10 industries experienced a decline in the last three months of 2022. The republic’s essential agriculture and mining industries were the biggest victims, both contracting by over 3%.
The South African economy did grow by 2% in 2022, However, this is still well below the 5 to 6% target band that economists say will make an impact on the country’s 33% unemployment rate.
Eskom CEO André de Ruyter’s hasty exit from the power utility follows a damning tell-all interview that ran on local partner channels eTV and ENCA prior to his decision to step down. De Ruyter accused the governing African National Congress (ANC) of using the state-owned company as a “feeding trough”.
He also alleged that unnamed senior government officials, including a minister, were benefitting from coal deals at the utility.
Throughout Mr. De Ruyter’s hour-long interview were scattered implications of malpractice, The then-CEO alleged that criminal gangs were doing business with Eskom. There has been at least one attempt on De Ruyter’s life since he announced his intention to take the retirement option. Is it because he knows where the bodies are buried?
Caught between a rock and a hard place, De Ruyter was afterwards summoned by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) to name names and to provide evidence.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The invitation to attend is still on the table. The African National Council (ANC) has rubbished claims that the ruling party is complicit in Eskom corruption, describing them as “unacceptable, irresponsible and baseless.”
Reacting to the exposé, the government minister in charge of Eskom, Pravin Gordhan, said the former utility boss should keep his political views to himself and instead focus on ending blackouts. The business executive was due to leave Eskom anyway but his comments seem to lead to an earlier departure. Eskom would not be drawn on De Ruyter’s allegations, saying its focus was on hiring his replacement.
De Ruyter was with the power company for less than three years. His leaving comes amid crippling blackouts across the country known as load-shedding. This week, South Africans have endured between 10 and 12 hours of power cuts each day.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed a minister of electricity as the republic experiences its worst-ever electricity crisis. Millions of people are without lights every day, sometimes for up to 10 hours, in cities and towns across South Africa.
The power cuts, referred to as load-shedding, have caused much frustration, not least on the roads as failed traffic light systems cause gridlock.
Every cloud has a silver lining: Quick to spot a bargain the republic’s down and outs kit themselves out in reflective vests as they take responsibility for directing traffic. In return, the self-appointed traffic officers expect handouts which are happily proffered.
The less charitable are the footpads and the burglars who see in the blackouts an ally as they go about raiding homes and businesses hooked up to useless alarm systems.
During power cuts, mobile phone networks are often down making communication difficult. For those who cannot afford alternative sources of power like generators, and they are the majority, it means cold dinners and homework by lamp or candlelight.
The impact on the economy has been huge. Businesses have been closing down, and jobs have been shed as companies see their production costs rising as they are forced to seek backup power. Only two days in the last quarter of 2022 were without power cuts.
Russia to the rescue? The Russian Federation is the world’s No 1 provider of nuclear generation plants – with strings attached. The Republic of South Africa is a founder member of the rapidly expanding BRICS trading bloc. It is also a basket case partner.
The African republic’s Achilles heel is its declining GDP which is related to crippled Eskom. It is glaringly obvious that the South African Republic’s light at the end of the tunnel may well be a Russian rescue train arriving at Pretoria.
As I write so also do the scribes scattered throughout the offices of Atomenergoprom the holding company for Russia’s entire civil nuclear industry.
In February, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov paid an official visit to South Africa where he was warmly – in fact enthusiastically welcomed. His visit coincided with a joint naval exercise in which Russian and Chinese navies integrated the South African Navy. Connecting the dots doesn’t require much thought.
NOTE: Michael Walsh is the author of Rhodesia’s Death Europe’s Funeral, Africa’s Killing Fields and The Last Gladiators (of Africa).
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MIKE WALSH is a journalist, broadcaster and the author of LIFE IN THE REICH, MY LAST TESTAMENT – LET GOD JUDGE ME, HEROES HANG WHEN TRAITORS TRIUMPH, and other book titles. These best-selling books are essential for the libraries of informed readers.
MY LAST TESTAMENT—LET GOD JUDGE ME
HEROES HANG WHEN TRAITORS TRIUMPH: MARTYRS OF WORLD WAR II
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MEGACAUST Michael Walsh. R. J. Rummel, Power Kills: Genocide and Mass Murder (Journal of Peace Research) 164 million people have been killed in cold blood this century by Capitalist / Communist governments.
SLAUGHTER OF A DYNASTY Michael Walsh. Covertly sponsored by Wall Street banks and the White House Bolsheviks seized Tsarist Russia (regime change). For 36 years news of Bolshevik atrocities and 70 million martyred Christians were censored by Western media. Lavishly illustrated, this expose reveals secrets removed from Western history books.
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