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Willem Cronje asserts that Eskom was destroyed 25-years ago under then president Thabo Mbeki, not by Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter now ("De Ruyter is our best shot at averting collapse”, July 3). While it is true that the collapse of Eskom cannot be blamed on De Ruyter, nor should it be blamed on Mbeki, and its salvation is definitely not to be found by its current CEO.
Eskom is inherently flawed, and has been since 1923. It is a legislated monopoly used as a political pawn without any deference to economic reality or competence. While it may have functioned due to cheap coal and labour pre-1994, the foundations of its collapse began all that time ago.
Power stations being shut down and not being built started long before Mbeki. And Eskom’s central planning prevented it from truly grasping SA’s economic growth and electrical needs. ANC cadre deployment and racial quotas damaged Eskom, but this only exacerbated existing structural issues in a fragile monopoly.
De Ruyter cannot save Eskom. Only privatisation can. Only private competition can keep the lights on. Abolish the electricity monopoly and see decent competition start to provide electricity, holding each other accountable and providing a backup when one of them fails. That is the virtue of a free market.
Eskom was doomed to fail. We’re just living to see its destiny fulfilled. But it can be averted if we embrace a free market in electricity.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.