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Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

The FM quotes the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) as saying load-shedding is “a direct result of corruption at Eskom” (Features, March 2-8). It’s an alluring explanation, but it falls far short of explaining why South Africa is being starved of electrical power.

It is easy to recognise the appeal of NUM’s claim: it is simple and easy to understand. It identifies a clear cause and implies that there is a simple solution: catch the criminals and load-shedding goes away. It is also a convenient fig leaf for the government to hide its culpability.

The ANC’s cadre deployment policy places party loyalty above competence in appointments across the public sector and in state-owned enterprises (SOEs). As long as you are loyal, there is apparently no level of incompetence that will not be tolerated.

BEE means that the best person is not necessarily appointed. Racial targeting counts for more than putting together a team that can get the job done, as results across all the SOEs have shown.

Finally, preferential procurement rules allow racial criteria — rather than price, quality and the ability to deliver — to determine the winning bidder. This has allowed “non-value-adding intermediaries” (in the words of former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter) to interpose themselves in value chains, making costs skyrocket and Eskom financially unsustainable.

The upshot is that Eskom is collapsing. To fix load-shedding, energy companies, including Eskom, need the freedom to hire the people they require and buy goods and services from suppliers that deliver on time, at the right quality and the right price. They also need to be allowed to get on with running their businesses without political interference.

John Endres
CEO, Institute of Race Relations

The FM welcomes concise letters from readers. They can be sent to fmmail@fm.co.za

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