And then the lights went out. If ever a sign were needed that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s honeymoon is truly over, being plunged into darkness is it. One year into his presidency, Eskom, SA’s state electricity “provider”, has begun rolling blackouts across the industrialised nation of 56-million people. This week, Eskom, which produces virtually all the country’s electricity, said it would cut 4,000MW of power — its official capacity is 45,000MW — because of the unforeseen loss of six generating units. Eskom’s announcement came just days after Ramaphosa disclosed a plan to break the loss-making entity into three divisions (generation, transmission and distribution), raising suspicion of sabotage. Could the heavily unionised fiefdom be sending a message of displeasure about a re-organisation that could lead to job losses and privatisations? The alternative to sabotage is hardly more encouraging: Eskom has been so run down and mismanaged that its infrastructure is collapsing. It is a ...

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