In all the discussion and deliberations about the economy-shrinking ailments that have caused Eskom to become slowly less capable of maintaining a reliable supply of electricity, the role of years of deliberate decisions not to maintain Eskom plant and equipment has not enjoyed sufficient attention.
It is undeniably the function of the Eskom board to see to it that the utility keeps the lights on without interruption. Its decision-making in relation to maintenance is questionable and illegal. A deliberate or even negligent failure of proper governance has consequences. The members of successive Eskom boards who participated in decisions not to maintain, but instead run equipment into the ground, are liable for the reasonable cost of the foreseeable consequences of their decisions.
It is up to those now in charge to exact accountability in the form of damages from those responsible. Together with the long-overdue recovery of amounts looted from Eskom, a tidy war chest could be assembled in short order to provide the resources necessary (but sadly not currently available) to set Eskom onto a less fraught and a more consistently productive course.
Whether the political will to take the stronger medicine can be mustered by those now nominally in charge will be a good test of their independence and of whether the nation may have to resign itself to “more of the same” when it comes to the mismanagement of Eskom.
Paul Hoffman, SC
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