SA’s electricity system needs real change, and for years Eskom has played hardball to stop it. It lobbies political leaders and government officials, mobilises coal transporters and workers to support the status quo, and misleads the media. And rougher: at least behind the scenes, it threatens load shedding or, even worse, a weeks-long national blackout because the grid is destabilised. Invariably, the only way to avoid disaster is to give Eskom more money, more monopoly power, higher tariffs. And it always asks for twice the money it really needs, so it still wins if it only gets half. Eskom has a new board and CEO working hard to clean up corruption. But they still have to come to grips with the underlying business and negotiations model, which pose even bigger threats to SA. In August, the new Eskom leadership outlined a four-part economic turnaround strategy to parliament: subsidising energy-intensive users to boost demand (ironic, with more load shedding looming); getting its d...

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