Accountability? Load shedding proves that doesn’t exist in SA

An objective scorecard would allow South Africans to see which of our leaders kept their promises.


In a world increasingly relying on data, South African politics still loves to do things old school.

Even the IEC still loves the pen and paper. I’m sure they have their reasons but as the electorate, it would be marvellous if we had an objective way of holding the leadership to account.

Sure, the DA puts out their annual score card and a couple of news outlets occasionally do the same but those are inconsistent, subjective and generally not helpful because when things are bad, it’s easy to just cast criticism. And, if you haven’t noticed, things have been pretty bad.

So, as Comrade Fikile Mbalula told us that we’d reverse load shedding by the end of the year and Deputy President Paul Mashatile said that it’s the government’s top priority, I found myself asking two questions. Was it not the top priority before and aren’t those the same promises that Cyril Ramaphosa made back in 2015?

ALSO READ: Mbalula adamant govt will eliminate load shedding by end of 2023

It’s not like any of the other targets to end load shedding were met so forgive me for not feeling enthusiastic about this new set of promises.

Sadly, there’s even more reason to be dismissive of these new promises.

They have no reason to stick to them. It’s not like we ever look back and realise that we’ve heard the same state of the nation address five years running. It’s not like we didn’t know load shedding was a problem a decade ago.

You’d think that given South Africa has one of the largest cabinets in the world, coinciding with the perpetual lip-service stating what a massive problem load shedding is, something would have been done to fix it ages ago. Either our government is too pathetic to fix the issue or there have been better things to do with its time – like nuking the currency or competing in the World’s Highest Unemployment Rate Championships.

ALSO READ: ‘Load shedding government’s top priority’ – Mashatile

I just wish, that we had some way to get this collective of getters-away-with-doing-nothing to walk the talk or at least show how they have walked the talk. And yes, I can hear the screams of ‘democracy’ and ‘voting’ and blah blah so before we hear that argument, understand that the reason we put people in Parliament is because we don’t have the time to hold a referendum on every single issue so we outsource that to elected representatives.

Nobody has time to sit and analyse the contributions, statements and effects of every minister and their deputies, never mind the rest of the members of the public official club. Even if they did, there would be some arguments about subjectivity and the issue would disintegrate into a battle of affiliation.

If, however, we got our leadership to state their promises somewhere public and give a criterion on how to judge them on it, the end of the election cycle would be far more interesting. We would also then have a far better scorecard than that given by the media or opposition.

Let the auditor-general handle it and so next time Fikile pipes up with a promise, let him volunteer his criteria, like in 2024 there will be half the number of days of load shedding as in 2023. That’s an objective measurement and one that can easily be reduced to a pass or fail on a report card.

At the end of it, we can see which of our leaders passed and which failed, by their own standards or targets. Worryingly, what I really believe is that such a system would show how many of our politicians would rather choose to do nothing.

At least then we’ll know. It would be great to start holding people to account, though it would even better if they were encouraged to do something other than talk.

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