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The conspiracy theories around those responsible for Eskom’s stage three and four load-shedding last week were ridiculous. The ANC blamed sabotage by workers; workers blamed management and the government, which they said were plotting to carve up the business between themselves for private profit; and the Jacob Zuma fightback mob blamed Cyril Ramaphosa, who they said was plotting with his brothers-in-law, Patrice Motsepe and Jeff Radebe, to get bigger stakes in independent power producers. Everyone thought someone else was to blame. Not one had a shred of evidence to back up their claims. But consider this. Eskom’s energy availability factor – the amount of energy its power stations are able to feed the grid at any one time – has been dropping like a stone since 2017, when it was at 79%. By October 2018 it had dropped to 71%. By the second week of February just before load-shedding began, only 64% of Eskom’s plants were delivering power. This is because Eskom has severely neglected ...

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