World class African power play

Residents in South Africa’s “world class African city” pay a lot for electricity. For many it has become the biggest monthly expense.

While you can eventually pay off your bond or the instalments on your car, you can never finish paying your electricity bill, which continues to rise much more steeply than the official inflation rate.

In return, residents have a right to expect a certain level of service. Instead we find service levels deteriorating almost in direct proportion to the increasing costs. What happened last week was a thundering disgrace for several reasons.

It is correct to be angry at the City Power employees who deliberately sabotaged the city’s supply by switching off feeds from various sub-stations. These are criminal acts whose perpetrators deserve severe punishment. We hope the often inept utility will be able to trace the culprits and the police and Hawks won’t botch the investigations.

The culprits were angry at the introduction of a shift system which will bring to an end arrangements where people whose cost to company is R400 000 a year have been able to pocket R1.2 million through, for example, working at night but sleeping during their normal day shift.

Such cheating had to be stopped. However, much blame must lie with management who allowed this widespread practice. City Power’s chief executive reportedly collects R2.7 million a year. For doing what? When the crisis erupted he was apparently enjoying an overseas trip, a favourite pastime of senior Johannesburg officials.

Whatever City Power’s bloated management team is doing, it is not managing. In addition the city has an “executive” mayor who has been apologetic when not invisible. The top brass must account for the dereliction of duty which paralysed SA’s largest city.

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