A country without a reliable supply of electricity is a country which will see its economic growth hobbled. That is why the current mess at Eskom is of such concern.
The prolonged wage negotiations at the power utility come on the back of catastrophic mismanagement and corruption there. Striking workers and those trying to sabotage Eskom by blocking access to its vital points have led to more load shedding.
But, at the same time, the utility’s increasing prices – in excess of the inflation rate – are threatening to harm one of the critical sectors of the economy: mining.
Gold producers have been badly affected by increasing power prices – because electricity makes up 20% of their input costs – and now face a possible national strike as a result of their inability to meet workers’ salary expectations.
Any strike in this industry will have a ripple effect throughout the economy and ordinary people could pay the price for months, or even years, to come.
Eskom long ago went from being a national asset to being a national liability.
The government has no option but to turn the corporation around. SA’s future and prosperity depend on it.