“When it’s time to panic, panic quickly.” Market commentator, investor and popular Business Day TV host Simon Brown likes to remind us of this sage advice from his grandfather whenever there is bad news brewing about a specific company. Designed originally for share traders, the tip is equally applicable to all facets of life. As we lurch from one crisis to the next, the question has to be asked: why does it take our government so long to start panicking? Why do we first need an unprecedented 40% of Eskom’s generating capacity offline before we realise there is apparently a shortage of engineers, or design problems with Medupi and Kusile, or the need for a proper investigation into what exactly is going on with these R300bn-and-counting monstrosities? The time to start panicking over electricity supply in SA was 20 years ago. Quick action then could’ve saved us not only billions of rand in interest payments on eye-wateringly expensive, dysfunctional power stations, but also an untol...

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