31 January 2008

Should heads roll over power crisis?

The Times - Article: Regret for blackouts:
Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica conceded today that the country’s electricity crisis constitutes “a national emergency” and urged South Africans to work together to overcome it.

Opening a special joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, she expressed “sincere regret” for the power crisis.

But in an unfinished sentence, she appeared to criticise the call for heads to roll, saying there were some people who want to “crucify, crucify, crucify”...

Independent Democrats MP Lance Greyling pointed out that Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge was fired from her post as deputy minister of health for making one unauthorised trip abroad, but that no one had been sacked for bringing the economy to its knees.

There is a sense in which heads have already rolled -- at the ANC conference last December, where many members of the cabinet were not re-elected to the ANC's national executive committee, and no doubt this will also be reflected in the party list for the next general election.

But Lance Greyling of the ID makes a point that deserves further consideration. Where heads have rolled in the past, it has looked like an excuse, or misuse of power for personal rivalries and cronyism. Even the sacking of Jacob Zuma had more than a whiff of an excuse to get rid of a rival.

But heads rolling is not enough. We don't need scapegoats: we need solutions. The government didn't build power stations apparently believing that private enterprise would do so. Private enterprise hasn't done so, so the government better do it. Oh yes, and stop Coega. The jobs lost through power cuts will far exceed the number of jobs created by Coega.


Donn Edwards said...

Heads should roll at 'skom and in the Cabinet, but the problem is that there are very few leaders of calibre to replace them.

After listening to the Minister of Energy putting both feet in her mouth during her speech, I would be glad to see her go, along with Manto. But it won't happen.

Unknown said...

Heads will roll, but it will not happen over night and certainly not in a way that will put government in a bad light (excuse the pun) This is however not the issue: the issue is how do we manage the situation for now and for the next few years. Our energy crisis also has to do with our culture and the kind of economic policies that we pursue in following the Northern countries. This is unsustainable over the long run, irrespective of who governs SA or whoever runs Eskom.

Steve Hayes said...

Yes indeed, the problem with heads rolling is whether there are wiser heads to replace them.

And short-term solutions will differ from long-term ones. We need to look for both. Plug the gap in the short term, but in the long term reduce dependency on fossil fuels, especially for such massively wasteful projects as Coega.


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