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By Citizen Reporter

Journalist


Future is looking darker even with stage 4 shedding

The main concerns of hard-nosed business people are about our unreliable power supply and our collapsing transport infrastructure.


Like many Europeans who have visited or lived in this country, Volkswagen Passenger Cars chief executive Thomas Schäfer has an abiding love for South Africa. But, like many foreigners and locals, he increasingly fears the worst for us.

The former head of the local VW operation spoke to Reuters on a visit to SA last week – and his comments should be required reading for that singing, dancing group of clowns masquerading as our government.

“Eventually you have to say, why are we building cars in a less competitive factory somewhere far away from the real market where the consumption is?” Schäfer said.

“I’m very worried about it… We’re not in the business of charity. ”For a correct German to voice those fears means the VW Group is clearly reassessing its future in this country. Thousands of jobs and billions of rands will vanish if the company decides to pull out and end its nearly nine-decade commitment to South Africa.

The main concerns of hard-nosed business people like Schäfer are about our unreliable power supply and our collapsing transport infrastructure, which adds both costs and complexity to any manufacturing business in South Africa.

His words come against reports that the major mining groups have retrenched, or are planning to retrench, significant numbers of workers because of the failing transport infrastructure – both at ports and in the rail network – which prevents them from exporting as much as they produce.

And, with a perfect sense of timing yesterday, our minister of blackouts, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, tried to take advantage of South Africans’ “Stockholm syndrome” reactions… we are so happy that our captors have gifted us the respite of stage 4 load shedding that we feel relief. Only eight hours in a day. What a bargain!

His complex PowerPoint presentation clearly aimed to baffle brains with bulldust as he tried to divert attention from Eskom’s near-collapse this week.

Make no mistake – that’s exactly what it was. The minister denied suggestions that the country was undergoing de facto stage 8 load shedding rather than the stage 6 which Eskom announced.

ALSO READ: ‘We were never at stage 8,’ says electricity minister as Joburg residents cry foul

People across Johannesburg have been complaining of being without power for 12 hours and more in a 24 hour period – for which Ramokgopa threw City Power under the bus, claiming it had messed up the schedules after taking over load shedding from the power utility this month.

Independent power experts said, however, that last week Eskom faced a shortfall of 7 000 megawatts (MW) between demand and supply. Given that Eskom says each load shedding stage is 1 000 MW, the crisis was clearly well past being just stage 6, which caters for the need to remove 6 000 MW from the grid.

Despite the fact that the economy is stagnating – in large part because of the power drought – and that it is summer, and that the coal is not wet, things are getting worse.Yet Ramokgopa still faces the cameras as the fall guy for the whole ANC organisation, which continues to feed on the carcass of Eskom and to plot future sessions of gluttony, from powerships to new coal-fired power stations, to gas deals with Russia, to nuclear energy.

And yet there is a positive to all of this. When the last foreign investor packs up to go, we won’t have to tell them to turn off the lights. There won’t be any left to turn off.

NOW READ: ‘Everybody is running away from us’: ANC branches see disillusionment with party – report

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