The National Democratic Revolution demands that the state, under the control of the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), be in charge of major institutions of the state. This is required because the ANC, to fulfil its revolutionary mandate, must use the state to radically transform society into one it deems more moral, more just, more ‘equal’. Eskom is an example of such an institution. On Monday evening, the utility announced Stage 6 loadshedding, the highest level ever. The exact details, such as duration, etc., are unclear at time of writing. What is clear is that the grid is on the point of collapse, and this will be another body-blow to our already-ailing economy. The prospect of a second recession in as many years just greatly increased.
When private businesses fail, many people are affected. When government-enforced monopolies fail, whole countries are affected. A technical problem at Medupi power station has been blamed for Stage 6; Eskom says it had to cut 6,000 megawatts. Wet coal, and other technical issues, have also been cited as reasons for our continued state of darkness. The reasons and excuses will pile up, and Eskom will receive bailout after bailout, because the voters allow it.
Because of the implementation of Stage 6, Petra Diamonds (one of SA’s largest sources of precious stones) stopped work at all its mines. Electricity tariffs have risen more than 523% since 2006. The unreliable power supply, coupled with rising costs and incredibly restrictive labour regulation, all mean that South Africa will continue to slide down the production tables, and more people will join the more than 10 million unemployed.
The communist philosophy of the ANC demands that the state be in charge of our needs and wants. If we came to rely on private businesses for important things such as electricity, we may decide to vote differently come election time. It suits the ANC’s desire to remain in power, at all costs, to keep competitors out, and to keep voters dependent on the party and Eskom. Philosophically, South Africa is a country where the state views, and places, itself as supreme in people’s lives. We see scope for individual freedom, rights, and agency, only insofar as the government decides it will allow. Individual rights are a nice-to-have, not an imperative. As we are all dependent on Eskom, and the ANC, for our electricity, we must suffer together when it all inevitably fails.
There is no room for competition in the collectivist, statist framework. Merit cannot be allowed to get in the way of the revolution; people are useful only insofar as they have a certain skin colour. People are reduced to units, useful or not depending on an accident of birth, and whom they know in the ruling party. True diversity of competition and of thought are anathema to the ideology of control and centralisation which typifies the current regime. Eskom has reached its current state because of collectivist thinking; economic and strategic decisions are dismissed lest they result in competition for the state in the area of electricity provision.
That Eskom has applied for tariff increases should come as no surprise. The South African budget, funded by the taxpayer, is a bottomless pit for state-owned enterprises, because they never have to actually perform or be held to a budget.
One really has to wonder why anyone still believes the talk of a new dawn, of revived economic growth, of massive job creation. Until the government allows competition for Eskom, we will not see sustainable economic growth. This latest spate of blackouts serves as yet another reason for businesses, both local and foreign, to not risk investing in South Africa. If we had a decentralised grid, with multiple suppliers, the competition would mean lower prices for consumers, and greatly reduced dependency on a singular supplier. If the government was really serious about radical economic growth, it would privatise Eskom as fast as possible and deregulate the energy market.
Now that you’re seeing the lights go out all across the country, to levels never before witnessed, you can rest assured that the National Democratic Revolution and radical economic transformation are working exactly as intended. South Africa is being transformed ever downwards. When you sit in traffic, or see dark windows in shops, and hear the next spate of unemployment numbers, understand that all this is the result of the philosophy of collectivism, of state control.