by Hannes Wessels

South Africa is presently in the grip of a self-inflicted crisis as Eskom, the state-owned and managed monopoly charged with supplying the country’s electricity, appears to be drowning in debt and collapsing under the weight of rampant mismanagement and chronic corruption.

The president, who was Jacob Zuma’s vice-president for four years,  says he’s ‘shocked’ by the recent blackouts which have taken him completely by surprise (just why he missed out on knowing what almost everybody else did is not clear); and Pravin Gordhan, the State Enterprises Minister, has only now discovered that the two huge coal-fired plants that have increased the debt to R440 billion (on which they are no longer able to pay even the interest) are badly designed and built and will fail to meet any of the expected outputs.

There’s plenty of finger-pointing going on; poor quality coal, poor maintenance, poor accounting, poor management, bad debts, over-staffing and the emergence of independent power suppliers. But the elephant in the room that few want to address is the fact that this catastrophe was driven by the politics of race and the voice of the few was long ago ignored simply because the people ringing the alarm bells happened to be of European ancestry.

In 2007, the trade union Solidarity revealed the results of a survey they did at Eskom among some 5,000 Europeans employed at the utility, most of whom were in skilled positions:

73% felt that Affirmative Action prevented them from pursuing their personal goals.

99% felt powerless to influence Eskom’s Affirmative Action policy.

95% felt that promotion was not based on merit.

93% felt that promotion was determined by Affirmative Action.

77% felt that there was no future for them.

Unsurprisingly, many left, some even committed suicide, such was their depression being witness to the wilful destruction of what had been so painstakingly constructed, but not enough went voluntarily. In March 2015, with the utility already floundering, the Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Rapport, reported that the government had increased the pressure for ‘affirmative action’ and ordered further employee reductions of 1,081 White engineers and 2,179 White artisans.

What few know and, I suspect, even fewer want to know, is that this is not the first time Eskom has been in crisis-mode but the last time serious challenges arose there were different personalities dealing with it who triggered a very different response.

In 1983 the much mocked and universally despised P W Botha was the president and, unlike his successors, he understood that in order to preside over a period of sustainable economic growth he had to be able to deliver affordable electricity and enough of it. He also knew that he didn’t know how to run power-stations so he reached out to people who did.

In May of that year Botha was in receipt of a report compiled by mining executive, W.J. de Villiers which had found fault with the corporation’s forecasting, governance, accounting and investment and this had caused a serious financial squeeze. Horror of horrors! They had also uncovered a fraud of R4 million. (Unlike today when thefts and frauds run into hundreds of millions, this brought a quick conviction and the head of finance was forced to resign for failing in his oversight role.)

The president acted immediately and wisely when he reached out to Dr. John Maree and asked him take over the board chairmanship. Maree was then a top-flight, former Barlows executive who responded positively to Botha’s request to serve despite the fact that he would have to accept a significant salary reduction as a civil-servant. Maree was of that increasingly rare breed that put the national interest ahead of his own. His wing-man, as Chief Executive was Dr. Ian McRae, soft-spoken and widely respected, a technical expert, he had started at the utility in 1947 as an artisan’s apprentice and worked his way up the ranks.

Maree moved fast to cut costs and streamline management while McRae, wanting to bring power to the poorest, championed the vision of ‘electricity for all’. “Eskom needed to be performing to the satisfaction of everyone in our country,” he said, “and that included making electricity available to all, not just one third of the population.”

Early in his tenure Maree had to make a decision on the Majuba power station, then using state of the art technology and one of the most expensive projects in the country’s history. Contrary to the views of many of his peers, he gave it the green light and for a while it looked like a major blunder as the country was over-supplied with electricity but then came the much hoped for economic growth and the country was perfectly poised to supply the power. Botha’s hopes had been realised and the country prospered. With these gentleman at the helm Eskom was turned into the biggest power utility in the world and one of the most efficient which drew experts from around the globe to learn from the systems, technology and operations that had been implemented and perfected.

Then came the advent of much celebrated democracy and a new dispensation under the ANC that called for Whites to be booted and replaced by Blacks, no matter the consequences, in the all-consuming name of ‘affirmative action’.

The rest is history and an entire economy may collapse as a result, bringing poverty and misery to millions. I say ‘may’; there appears to be a glimmer of hope. Minister Gordhan has just announced they are bringing in outside experts (at huge cost no doubt) to try and repair the damage. I’ll bet most of them are the Whites they so recently and so gleefully dispensed with. Unlike the previous government, this one is led by people who don’t know they don’t know … and the consequences are calamitous.




By Managing Editor

Highly respected, Writer, Blogger, Wildlife Conservationist, Hunter and Father.......

13 thoughts on “No Whites; No Lights”
  1. The Communist Revolution could never have completely steamrolled Africa unless the big crypto, Communist powers : the UK, US and UN gave it massive support through finance and diplomatic skulduggery. And they deserve what is coming to them in terms of the Communist Revolution. A Communist state is a failed state – which is why it requires massive under-the-table assistance from nations which still have functioning capitalist economies. The US (admittedly a crypto Communist power) but still with a functioning capitalistic economy built the Soviet industrial complex so it could function as the hammer of the Revolution. And it hammered Africa into submission. So now the Communist ANC has it. And they created the Eskom crisis along the lines that communists are wont to create crises in human resources – flat iron egalitarianism – in this case, deployed along racial lines. This is exactly the kind of crisis we are going to see a lot more of in the West as Communism is implemented from the top down. To run an electricity company, what is required besides infrastructure is managers and engineers. In the real , non-ideological world, the people who can become managers and engineers have a specific set of abilities that can be tested for and really, only people with this set of abilities need bother going through the years of tertiary education to acquire the relevant degrees. Lower the standards of those degrees to make everyone ‘more equal’ and to satisfy some communist quota system of equalist representation or gender theory demand – you don’t get engineers and managers – you get political commissars and a failed electricity company.

    In terms of its human resources, Eskom should just announce: “No Sir. We have set our course and from now on it is our intention to go on paddling our own canoe.” Then go and get those White toxic male type persons who are good at math and engineering and making things work. And this will, of course, make the communists cough up their furball – the way they always do when confronted with realities in the natural order.

  2. The sad story of Africa. But also the result of the white liberals. All having fat paid jobs in NGO’s, like Oxfam, Save the Children and 34.000 more organisations.

  3. It is easier to corrupt an individual man rather than an individual nation. That is why Britain backed Kenyata, Kaunda, Mugabe, Mandela and the following regimes. It had absolutely nothing to do with democracy. Democracy requires individual commitment, integrity and communal responsibility. People in power do not possess these qualities. Eskom, Transnet, SAA etc are just chapters in the downfall of this nation. There is no “light” at the end of this tunnel. Africa is being re-colonised economically by the highest bidder. The responsibility lies fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the Black man. He cannot blame the White man and he knows that.
    I am not a racist. I am racial. The difference is the acknowledgement that other races are better equipped and superior than I in certain areas of performance but, I can accept this fact, learn from those, impart to those, combine with those and visualise (seriously thinking) to be a force of progress and success.
    What a fantastic continent this would be if only the education brought by the White man could trigger visualisation in the mind of the Black man.

    The Rhodesian

  4. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed. Ayn Rand

  5. China will, as they have done in many African countries, come to their self serving rescue and will shortly control the power both electrical and political in another African country.
    Perhaps a better alternative to the current (not a pun) regime?

  6. I remember the start of this. My eldest brother was fairly high up and with the affirmative action beginning , there were plenty faults going on because they did not know what they were doing. They then wanted him out , but wanted him to train one of their mates to do his job , which he refused and left with lots of others. The theft is not surprising as soon as they get independence the large scale theft occurs, see the rest of Africa. Thanks for the interesting articles.

  7. In the foreword to a book all about Koeberg, Dr. John Maree wrote that such was the improvements that were made (as you stated) that they were able to REDUCE the real cost of electricity by 35%. They could foresee also, that by the turn of the century, they could reduce the real cost of electricity by a further 10%.
    To understand what happened to Eskom, read up (Google search) about the “Dunning Kruger effect”.

  8. This is the result of the diabolically evil alliance between communists, black nationalists and politicians and last but not least, our friends the white liberals.

  9. They will first bring in more people from India,m then Cuba, the Belgium, Norway and Denmark. EVERYTHING NOT TO have to call in white South Africans. I know, I have witnessed this before.

Comments are closed.