This madness has got to stop.For many South Africans, nightmare could become a five-letter word: Eskom.
Even as in-and-out CEO Brian Molefe takes the power utility to court to challenge the decision to overturn his reappointment, Eskom is asking for eye-watering increases in electricity prices.
Moneyweb has reported that Eskom wants its clients to pay on average 19.9% more for electricity from April 1 next year and proposes that municipalities pay 27.3% more for bulk electricity purchases from July 1 2018.
The proposals have been submitted to National Treasury and local government association Salga for comment. It is outrageous that the utility should ask for such steep increases – up to four times higher than the rate of inflation – on the back of attempts to pay out Molefe a golden handshake of R30 million.
It also follows the bullying and blackmail tactics employed by Eskom’s board chair, Ben Ngubane, who warned of possible load shedding during winter because Treasury had refused to agree to certain coal supply contracts.
Coal supply contracts are, by the way, a central pillar of the money-making machine that is the Gupta family network.
There are undoubtedly arguments from the Eskom side that will seem valid: the need to continue to build and complete power stations and the need to have capital for further, possibly nuclear, expansion.
Putting aside for the moment whether these new build programmes might be fertile grounds for corruption and more state capture, the reality is that such increases will help cut our economy off at the knees.
During a period of sluggish growth, both local and international, power hikes could well push us into a full-blown recession.
This madness has got to stop. Our government and state-owned enterprises have got to stop ripping us off.
Eskom should be run for the benefit of South Africa, not to the detriment of this country.