It was all so predictable. That would be the union reaction to President Cyril Ramaphosas announcement of reforms to finally fix Eskom. There are reasons to be sceptical of the government’s ability to find a lasting solution to Eskom’s crisis, which threatens the very jobs that the unions say they are trying to protect. At a time when most people realise there is a national crisis on hand, they are offering war. The plan to break up Eskom into three parts, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim says, is “nothing more than privatisation through the back door”. He then goes on to make the bold statement that only “an Eskom which is completely owned and controlled by the state is the best guarantee for cheap electricity. History has shown us that once the private sector is allowed to step in, prices increase and massive job shedding is inevitable.”

Whose history exactly isn’t clear. But the statement came just as the state-owned Eskom is asking the regulator for average increases of o...

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