Watch this space? You mean the vacuum made by Eskom?
No business in the world will invest in a country where a crucial monopoly like Eskom is utterly dysfunctional
If there was a single factor threatening to scupper any of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to attract $100bn of investment over five years it would be Eskom.
Based on his comments delivered to a receptive audience at last week’s Investing in Africa Mining Indaba, the government has been steered towards attracting foreign capital inflows, and the message was clear: we want you here, invest.
But the damage Eskom is doing not only to businesses already in SA but the country’s image as an investment destination cannot be calculated.
With Eskom unexpectedly stopping 4,000 megawatts of power without warning, prompting Ramaphosa to describe the utility as “dysfunctional” and that it made him “angry” shows he is well aware of the damage it is doing to his plans to grow the economy and create jobs.
But the blame can be laid squarely and unreservedly at the ANC’s door. As the party ruling the country it has made shockingly short-sighted decisions about the single most important state-owned asset. It is mired in corruption, disastrously poor management, and severely lacking in strategic foresight.
Shambolic management of such a core element of the economy has led to a decade of above-inflation electricity prices increases and more to come to pay for bad decisions and capital destruction.
The fact that none of the key players in the demise of Eskom have been arrested or brought to trial let alone jailed speaks volumes about the lack of political will to hold those responsible to account for what is tantamount to economic sabotage.
For all Ramaphosa’s assurances about “watch this space” and fine words about the economic resuscitation of SA, until Eskom is restored as a clean, viable and reliable business, his lofty dreams will remain just that. No business in the world will invest in a country where a crucial monopoly like Eskom is utterly dysfunctional.