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Former president Jacob Zuma’s intervention in the latest South African electricity crisis was, at least, momentarily funny. If we had done the R1-trillion Russian nuclear deal we wouldn’t be load-shedding at stage 4, he told Business Day. He lives in a weird world, that guy. If we had done the Russian deal we would not yet even have dug a foundation. If we had done a Russian deal in 2017 we'd get our first volt from it 10 years later.

But for all of Zuma’s nonsense, I watched an Eskom press conference the other day with a sinking feeling. Perhaps it was a department of public enterprises press conference. It was led by Pravin Gordhan, public enterprises minister and former finance minister and, in my view, a national treasure. Next to him sat Eskom chair Jabu Mabuza, a leading light in the private sector doing national duty running the Eskom board. On the other side of him sat CEO Phakamani Hadebe, who didn’t say much, and at the end, Jan Oberholzer the COO. Oberholzer looks like an engineer out of Central Casting. A big guy, chiselled face and not many words. He has just been brought back to Eskom but when he was last there he was a distribution guy, not a generation guy. But he showed us a faint slide of a boiler and said there were 600km of tubing in each and when one ruptured you had to cool it down, go find the hole and fix it and then heat it up and test it and then bring it back into commission. I enjoyed ...

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