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President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bizarre suggestion of a second state-owned enterprise to compete with the electricity utility Eskom must be viewed through the lens of the scary, violent and uncertain times that the citizens of this country are living through.
It is absurd in the middle of the country’s worst electricity crisis that the man who was put in charge of Eskom during the Zuma years is now saying: “I failed to fix the current provider, well, let’s just build another one.”
Not very different from a kid who breaks their toy through neglect and then demands a new one.
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The president’s suggestion needs to be seen in context: it was made at the SA Communist Party’s elective conference.
The party has never hidden the fact it wants everything controlled by the state.
The announcement was definitely music to the ears of the communists and “tenderpreneurs” listening to him.
But the greater context is that the president has been having it tough recently.
There had to be a bone thrown to appease those that must have been waiting to protest his presence there.
The suggestion of a second electricity state-owned utility is also a sign of the dearth of ideas on how the ruling party wants to solve the myriad of problems the country is facing.
It is as though the logic of going for low-hanging fruits when dealing with huge problems is something foreign to the government.
The easiest fix to the current crisis is obvious: fix Eskom. Fix what is preventing it from doing its job.
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Scary as the idea might be, it is time to stop the fearmongering over privatising the entity as if that will guarantee that it works.
Yes, privatisation means profiteering will come before the consideration of the needs of the poor, but the honest question is: what is better: a broken Eskom that cannot provide electricity or a privately owned (even partially) entity that will provide electricity all the time?
The poor are the worst hit. The wealthy can afford generators and solar back-up.
The poor can only ride out the dark hours in the cold. So much for state-owned enterprises protecting them.
The current spate of mass shootings that have people in a permanent state of fear and uneasiness is yet another demonstration of the state of paralysis that the government has worked itself into.
The logical low-hanging fruit here is gun control. Bheki Cele and the government’s response?
A ministerial visit to the sight of the shooting (to show the government cares) and sending the police’s tactical response team, Amaberethe, to the area.
This is the oldest trick in the book, “to be seen to be doing something”.
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Journalists have uncovered that the shooting that led to the deaths of 16 people in Soweto is linked to illegal mining groups that are largely run by Lesotho nationals.
Illegal mining has always been a “them” problem.
It has now mushroomed into a deadly “us” problem that cannot be solved by a convoy of window-tinted luxury black SUVs driving into a township the day after 16 people have been shot dead.
The low-hanging fruits for Ramaphosa and Bheki Cele are a massive campaign to go after illegal firearms, tighter border control to close off foreign guns reaching this country and a new plan to eradicate illegal mining.
Amaberethe and a new Eskom will not work. Do the obvious.