The great Eskom reprieve.  Confidence or con?


By John Fraser

Aren’t we blessed? After more than a week, with days and nights of revolving power cuts, the lights are back on.  The crisis is over. We are receiving the service for which we are paying – or, in the case of many in Soweto, for which we have not paid in years.

Good stuff Eskom. The parasital parastatal has been transformed into a modern miracle-worker, a savior, a saint for whom we no longer need to light a candle; we just have to flick a switch.

But is all as it seems?   Can we go so effortlessly from Code Red to Code Bright and Shining?

I wonder.

My own conspiracy theory may be totally ridiculous, and I am happy if you dismiss it as the ravings of a light-deprived brain.

However, I just wonder whether the looming election may be responsible for lifting the shadow from Eskom, for the ending of the crisis, for delivering us from the darkness.

Just suppose you were a cynical ANC politician, and just suppose you were worried about your party receiving a knock in the elections? What would you do about the power cuts?

I would opt for the band-aid approach.  No, not by calling in Bob Geldof, but by papering over the cracks, putting a few paper clips in the fuse box, getting the system up and running for a while.

Therefore, we can hobble along towards election day without power cuts, or with very few.  The saint-like Cyril can receive the glowing adulation of the fully-lit disciples, and the ANC can win another four years to repair, or to further bugger-up, the economy.   We may have different views on that one.

Of course, once the wheels start falling off again, and the darkness returns, it won’t matter as much for a newly re-elected ANC.

The ANC will have boosted its election prospects, and if the power cuts resume as the polls close, it can blame apartheid, Steve Hofmeyr, white monopoly capital, global warming, or the level of sugar in fizzy drinks.

The lights will have shone for just long enough.

And, after that?  Well, you can get away with a lot under the cover of darkness.

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