Eskom Group CEO Phakamani Hadebe at the utility’s headquarters at Megawatt Park in Sunninghill, Johannesburg. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Eskom Group CEO Phakamani Hadebe at the utility’s headquarters at Megawatt Park in Sunninghill, Johannesburg. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Left with little choice, people adapt to all kinds of drawbacks. So it was that South Africans, punch-drunk from the previous week’s unprecedented stage 4 electricity blackouts, actually celebrated when Saturday brought only stage 2 load-shedding — a relatively merciful new normal — and Sunday had none at all. It was enough to cast Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe in a heroic light, especially since some level of power cuts are expected for at least six months, though Eskom says cuts are unlikely in the next week.

It’s going to take a long time for Eskom chief Phakamani Hadebe to extricate the power utility from the shadow of criminal neglect, incompetence and corruption, and R420bn in debt at the near-monopoly into whose insatiable maw taxpayers have poured billions, with dim results. Whether or not it was to keep the sweetest of the ratings agencies from plunging SA into further darkness with a negative rating this week, Eskom on Sunday somehow kept the lights on. Sadly, Hadebe knows it can’t do so for long.