Tony Leon Columnist


A few weeks ago, after a family commemoration, I was sitting at a restaurant in Durban North, the suburb where I was born decades ago.

I noticed that our Greek taverna was situated on the corner of Swapo Road and Adelaide Tambo Drive, neither name immediately evocative for this English-Indian-Zulu suburb.

One of our guests reminded the table that this street-renaming frenzy had peaked five-plus years ago and hence the former neutrally named “Broadway” and “Kensington Drive” had been ditched in favour of something far more in keeping with the struggle and the supremacy of the ANC.

My Durban North reunion was in between the first bout of stage-four electricity blackouts in February and the current load-shedding-without-end shuttering the country now, and blighting its economic prospects and much else besides. My thought then was how much easier the local and national governments find it to attend to the surface bling and eye-catching appeal of so-called transformation, such as changing names, and ignore the much harder and necessary work of doing the essentials. Such as maintaining working power stations and keeping the trains running, or at least not running four hours late. Indeed on Tuesday, Eskom chair Jabu Mabuza admitted that the utility had “neglected the maintenance of power stations for a decade”. And the management was too busy looting and “transforming” to notice or care. The whip-smart Financial Times correspondent in SA, Joseph Cotterill, offered an intriguing and painful thought on Cyril Ramaphosa’s four-hour-delayed train journey to Pretoria on ...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now