Two Bits: What planet is Eskom on, anyway?

Remember load shedding?

I recall how irritated I was at the time, around 2011 if memory serves, that I had to pay R120000 for a generator so that the business could survive.

No electricity equals no computers equals no business.

And this pattern was repeated thousands and thousands of times across the country, at what cost to the country?

Not that I would know, I struggle to count higher than the number of my fingers and toes, but the total must have been staggering.

In fact, I think we haven’t finished paying for the complete mismanagement of Eskom that caused those blackouts.

Last week I received a press release from Eskom which said that they had written to McKinsey and Trillian – the latest culprits in the ongoing Gupta-related expose – asking them to repay the R1 billion and R524 million ‘unlawfully’ paid to those companies.

Pardon? Did I read that correctly? Asking them to repay R1,5 billion that we oops, paid you by mistake? What planet do they live on?

This is how it worked, apparently.

Eskom was in bad trouble, so through a long story of ‘introductions’ to the right people, they hired consultants McKinsey to tell them how to save electricity. All McKinsey had to do was to tell them how to save money and they got paid a percentage of the amount ‘saved’. Not based on actual savings, just on being told how to save.
Eskom: So, how do we save electricity?

McKinsey: Easy, turn off the lights. That will be R1bn, please.

It was a scam, don’t you think? And this R1bn had to be recovered, so guess why the price of electricity to went up so much right after!

We know all this because of the extraor–dinary work being done by the investigative journalists of amaBhungane and Scorpio and the previous public protector, Thuli Madonsela, in revealing the extent of corruption in our society.

Thanks to them we know who and how the South African public has been systematically defrauded and covered their tracks with the likes of predatory ”consultants” like Bell Pottinger and McKinsey and tied up with a bow by ”auditors” KPMG et al. Every week we learned more, like peeling off the layers of an onion.

Question is, what is going to be done about it? The government is in denial.

They’re furious with the banks for cutting off the main cancer, the Gupta family. They see it as a trough to feed on, not as a problem. I suspect that the only decisive action will come from the private sector.

There will be more companies exposed as complicit to the corruption, but there will also be others, like Sygnia, Interwaste and Wits University that will show their disgust by firing the likes of KPMG.

I admit I’d never heard of Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka before last week, but we certainly know now. She’s rich, clever and appears to possess a moral compass. Latest news is that Telkom has cancelled KPMG’s contract, which is more good news. Maybe there’s hope.

* * *

Corruption seems to be all around us. You think you can avoid the obvious crooks by only dealing with reputable firms.

The other day I ventured into a very reputable hardware store, looking for a woodworking machine.

The salesman said they didn’t have it in stock, so he’d get a price from their supplier. After a few minutes he came back and said the price was R6 000. I thought that a bit fishy so I asked ‘she who knows everything’, Google (sorry, not you Rose, you’ve been upstaged by a later model) and lo and behold, the same item was on sale in Durban for R3 300!

I showed this to the salesman and he disappeared for a while, came back and said “Oops, they made a mistake.”

Mistake, like hell! Little guys see others getting rich through cheating, so why can’t they? And getting caught with your fingers in the till doesn’t seem to mean much anymore, does it?

* * *

Back in the day, there was a TV show called Dallas, and the character JR Ewing was a ‘covetous, egocentric, manipulative and amoral oil baron with psychopathic tendencies, who is constantly plotting subterfuges to plunder his foes’ wealth,’ according to Wikipedia.

Pete Matkovich, I think it was, dubbed Umhlali accountant Neal Roberts the “JR” of Umhlali village, but he might have over-exaggerated slightly.

On Saturday at the golf club, Malcolm Mann called me over and said “You have to see this!”

Malcolm displays the ‘holy’ golf towel. Neal, on the left, looks quite pleased with it, actually. Perhaps it has sentimental value.

Well, it seems JR has fallen on hard times, judging by the state of his golf towel.

Possibly we misjudge him, perhaps it’s a family heirloom. But anyway, we’re thinking of having a whiparound at the club for the R25 for a new one.

Or perhaps a well-known Tongaat shirt manufacturer can come up with a suitable replacement?

* * *

Haven’t the whales been fantastic this year?

The Sharks Board says there are about 15 000 whales in the winter migration, increasing at a rate of 11 percent a year.

Beachgoers at Clarke Bay were treated to a show at the weekend, when about 10 whales were breaching and putting on a magnificent display.

* * *

One government official to the other: “I don’t know what people have against us. We haven’t done anything!”

  AUTHOR
Bruce Stephenson
Editor

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