The Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch’s Ship of Fools springs to mind when reading that only 37 of the 136 local municipalities that owe Eskom a total of R58.5bn applied for debt relief.

In the painting, those in power feast recklessly while the hungry peasants beg for crumbs to be dropped overboard. The parallels with our rural municipalities are clear. Only, in most of those municipalities, the ship itself is also sinking rapidly. ..

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