There is no doubt that the situation at Eskom is worse than a crisis: it is a full-blown disaster, if not a catastrophe.

There is no other way to describe a situation that has already cost the country considerable economic growth, hundreds of thousands of jobs and hundreds of billions of rands, and generally disrupted our economic and social fabric.

There is no quick fix and it appears highly likely to take as long to fix the disaster as it took to create. In other words we have about ten lean, dark years ahead of us.

How did it get to this? Who or what were the causes?

Such things do not just happen. Was it simple incompetence, and if so, on whose part? Was it the result of political interference into what had historically been one of South Africa’s better parastatals? Or was the failure caused by poor leadership, at a political, board or executive level, or a shortage of skills or productivity? Or what? Or a combination of factors – a perfect storm? 

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There is no quick fix and it appears highly likely to take as long to fix the disaster as it took to create. In other words we have about ten lean, dark years ahead of us

South Africa needs to know.

Why? So that the guilty, if they exist can be punished.

And so that such disasters can be avoided in the future – not just at Eskom but at other such public utilities and government departments that are meant to supply us with water, roads, rail, policing, veterinary and agricultural services, environmental protection and the like. The potential for other such disasters may, or may not, be great.

We need a commission of enquiry into what went wrong, and why

A commission of experts with a clear mandate to find the truth. The time for politicians and spokesmen, blaming and coming up with every more creative excuses must end.

  • The commission must explain the causes, identify the people concerned, and make recommendations as to what action should be taken against them – be they politicians or civilians, cabinet ministers, CEOs and other executives or people at technical and worker levels.
  • It must make recommendations regarding punishment.
  • Most important, it must point to a path that ensures that such a situation is never created again – at Eskom, or at any other institutions on which the society and economy is critically dependant.