By Anthony Turton
We have just hit Stage 6 load shedding. This is uncharted territory so let’s unpack it a little.
Some years ago, I wrote about a startling fact that few people were interested in. That simple fact was that Eskom, our national energy utility company, was running on standby generators.
Nobody responded, so I shut up and moved on, but I never stopped thinking about this simple, startling fact.
Why is our national power utility running on standby generators?
The answer is complex, but one element of that answer involves diesel fuel. You see, a lucrative contract was given to a politically connected person to supply diesel.
That diesel wasn’t the cheapest, because the ‘supplier’ never personally manufactured the diesel. They merely bought it from a real diesel supplier who wasn’t allowed to enter the game because of the rules of that game.
That game is called BEE and it has deindustrialised a country that once produced 40% of all the gold ever mined, in all of recorded history, from the Incas to modernity.
That country once pioneered the production of oil from coal. That country once pioneered the first human heart transplant and gave us the first base-bleed artillery capable of firing a tactical nuclear weapon. That country pioneered water treatment technologies that recovered safe drinking water from sewage and it produced sophisticated steels used in highly-specialised engineering processes. The list goes on, but you hopefully get the point.
South Africa used to punch above its weight and was a genuine participant in the global economy. We produced things of value. Sophisticated things. Technologically-advanced things.
Then came BEE, and it changed the rules of the game, by skewing the playing field in favour of those whose only attribute was that they were politically connected.
It actively discriminated against anyone that was creative and nimble in the field of science, engineering and technology. It incentivised the out-migration of those people, merely because the rules of the game deliberately discriminated against excellence, and rewarded those whose sole attribute was their ability to extract money without creating value. This is called rent-seeking behaviour.
The sale of diesel to run the standby generators in the national energy utility enables the extraction of money, but it creates no enduring value, so it’s inherently parasitic. It’s a textbook example of rent-seeking behaviour.
Any organism infested with parasites slowly succumbs to their voracious presence, and eventually, they become so sick that they die a miserable, lingering death.
The collapse of Eskom is imminent for all the reasons noted above. It’s deeply infested with parasites extracting money without creating value.
It’s unsustainable for the same reasons that SAA has collapsed. It, too, had the game being played about the supply of fuel at an inflated cost. But it also had the other games – of supplying toothpicks, serviettes, cookies, butter and buns – all at an inflated cost.
It, too, has separated the right of remuneration from the responsibility of productivity.
South Africa no longer produces anything of value to the world. The mining industry has collapsed, leaving a toxic landscape of hazardous waste that will poison society for the next century.
Denel, that once played at a global level in the field of sophisticated weapons systems, is collapsing after the theft of the intellectual property that used to fuel its engine.
We have become a society that creates, rewards and protects thieves. Parasitic thieves. Ambitious thieves. Greedy thieves, with an insatiable lust for money, and an aversion to honest work and creativity.
South Africa is that animal infested by parasites that extract money without creating value. That poor animal is now emaciated and sick. Not yet dead, but feeble and suffering.
It will die, for that is inevitable, but before that, a predictable series of things will happen. Those things are inevitable, logical and therefore predictable.
I have seen them before, first-hand when other parasite-infested countries died. I saw it in the Romanian revolution that overthrew the tyranny of Nicolae Ceausescu. I saw it in the Leipzig Option that created rolling mass action to depose Erich Honecker in East Germany. I saw it in the Velvet Revolution of Czechoslovakia.
In all cases, a revolution deposed the parasitic class that had been extracting money, earned by the sweat of the people, without creating value for the nation.
I also saw it in the lingering demise of Robert Mugabe, who destroyed a proud nation because of his ruthless control over the extraction of money without the creation of value.
This is what I believe the inevitable implosion of Eskom, SAA, PRASA and every other SOE is all about.
We are witnessing the death of a destructive system called BEE, that has sucked the lifeblood from a once vibrant economy and replaced it with a new breed of oppressor, that preys on the poor and vulnerable portion of society that they once claimed to have liberated.
The oppressed have become the oppressors, and technological advancement is no longer possible as we enter the New Sanitation Dark Age, where raw sewage flows freely in many towns and cities of South Africa, and where pumps have ground to a halt because electricity production has been compromised by a class of parasite that is encouraged to supply diesel at inflated value, but is protected because of patronage.
Professor Anthony Turton is an environmental advisor, speaker and author. This article is based on a Facebook post composed by him.