Thursday, March 6, 2014

Wet coal, load shedding and rolling blackouts...

Eskom has once again announced load shedding... and no it isn't a weight loss course: it is a euphemism to cover up that all it is: is designed blackouts, where people are left without power, so others can have it.

Eskom used to blame 'wet coal' for blackouts. Really, what it was, was government linked employees giving out jobs to incompetent people. Those who were competent lost their contracts, for incompetent replacements in Eskom's obsession with race. Eskom also greedily aimed at short term profits, selling South African power to various countries, and encouraging high power consumption businesses such as aluminium smelters to use the South African grid. The government of course has spun the incapacity of the grid to deal with consumer and industrial demand as a positive sign, that growth in electricity requirement had far outpaced their own predictions. They said the same about the roads, although South Africa spends far below the standard required to actually upkeep and expand infrastructure per GDP. Wet coal, Eskom would claim: didn't burn.

Of course it does, but it was the excuse when new BEE contracted firms didn't deliver coal. Similar excuses emerged for not upgrading the power network. Articles have been written about the government being in bed with coal mines, so far a foreign press have it. Others have written how South Africa bungled its nuclear deals for untried technologies which would take years to have any positive effect. The fact remains, the government placed incompetent people in charge of the electrical grid.

They semi-privatised for the sake of doing so, and then let profits guide the important agencies of the country. Telkom, is in disarrays. Eskom is meagre and a shame for South Africa. SANRAL has privatised the Gauteng highways, SABC should be bankrupt, SAA, is a drain on the economy. All of these were once well groomed services. All have been privatised into black business empowerment programs, which really are a front for ANC allies. So, when your power goes out due to load shedding, remember this: you are the load the government has chosen to shed, the responsibility they took off of their own shoulders, and gave into the hands of unscrupulous businessmen, who just so happen to fund certain political parties.

It reminds me of what my Environmental Law lecturer, a black gentleman from Zimbabwe, said to our class. The government department fired or forced out their white employees, for BEE. They then hired on the same white employees as consultants at private rates, because the people who were given their jobs for policy, were unable to fulfil their duties.

The courts have affirmed recently that if BEE allows less competent people to get jobs merely for their skin colour, that this goes against the Constitution. More than that, it perpetuates the background against which many of those euphemistically termed 'previously disadvantaged' (read: non-white) South Africans, remain disadvantaged: because the economy is stifled, and service delivery comes to a halt. Perhaps if the most competent got the jobs in government, and her affiliates, rather than government affiliates, and the like, there would be no rolling blackouts.

Instead, the government is even now boasting of how they continue to add thousands of people to the national electricity grid, when it can't manage those already on. Perhaps in 20 years if the ANC is still in power, we will each get electricity one day a week, as they continue to expand access to the grid, but not the source of the power we need to consume: electrical power plants.

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