Sunday, September 20, 2009

Eskom raiders

By George Annandale (News24 User)


Eskom warned that as economic activity improves, the country and they will have to choose between industry and domestic users, a true "Catch-22", a case of you choose economic development and jobs with blackouts or expensive electricity for those who can afford it.

A lot has been said about Eskom and the havoc their incompetent management and political leaders have wreaked on citizens and taxpayers of South Africa. Critics of this travesty have been called negative, unpatriotic and advised, like the critics of the high levels of crime, to jump in the sea or immigrate to Vytjie Mentor's criminal Australia.

As the reality of the latest price hikes hit home and people realise they are, in some cases, paying almost double for electricity and municipal services, we hear a rising tide of protest and complains. Many of the wailers only a few moths ago castigated the "negative" critics.

The situation we find ourselves in is precarious to say the least. Because of the magnitude of the latest price rise, pricing policies of Eskom and Nersa, coupled with socialistic policies of the government, we will see more pay defaulters, more illegal power connections and an ever increasing burden on those prepared to pay. This will eventually lead to paralysis of the economy and total collapse. Payers will become impoverished and join the ranks of defaulters setting of a vicious circle of impoverishment and despair.

Despite the fact that Eskom received a higher unit price for electricity - a result of shutdowns by large users of discounted electricity such as Billiton, Xstrata, Samancor and others - in favour of more electricity delivered at regular prices. Eskom warned that as economic activity improves, the country and they will have to choose between industry and domestic users, a true "Catch-22", a case of you choose economic development and jobs with blackouts or expensive electricity for those who can afford it.

This dilemma can in the first place be laid squarely at the door of the super minister Jeff Radebe, who played a pivotal role in the demise of Eskom when in 1999he was unable to understand the need for capacity growth.

However, Marogo has done very little, other than moving the deck chairs on the Titanic, to right the ship. His reputation for ducking punches is becoming legendary. His statements on the positive effects of the power crisis are anything but funny. His habit of blaming coal price, supply and inventory management, issues entirely within his control, is nothing but a joke. He appoints a consultant, who, when pointing out management inefficiencies, in the supply chain, is fired. A classical case of shoot the messenger. Marogo is nothing but a typical "blame-everyone-but- never-accept-accountability" manager.

To put the cherry on the cake, Eskom proudly announced that next year's tariff increases are guaranteed to exceed our wildest expectations and is certain to exceed the admirable 2009 effort by a by a considerable margin. They are quick to tell us that our electricity is cheap in the global context, a confusing assertion. Are they telling us Apartheid economics were that efficient? How did they manage to keep power cheap and grow capacity?

One question remains. How do we correct Marogo's failures? Like in many other cases and in typical South African fashion,
reward him, in this case a 27% pay rise. The reason for the increase is easily explained, like all arrogant AA-CEOs, Marogo lined up another job and threatened to jump ship. The better offer as we all know is not based on ability but on equity quota requirements, a process aptly boosted by Jimmy Manyi’s threats and rabid ranting.

To the praise singers, the naïve and the blind, I am certain you will gladly pay more with your sight firmly set on your retirement shack in the veldt. At least you can be comfortable in the knowledge that you as a taxpayer heeded the Blunt Blade's call to change a state enterprise from self sufficiency to tax dependant.

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