Letter from the DM168 editor

Journey into the hearts of darkness – the ANC, Eskom and the past

Journey into the hearts of darkness – the ANC, Eskom and the past
From left: Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe. (Photo: Gallo Images / Jeffrey Abrahams) | Chief Executive Officer of Eskom, André de Ruyter. (Photo: Gallo Images / Rapport / Deon Raath) | Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: Esa Alexander / Sunday Times / Gallo Images)

This week DM168 delves into the politics of the power struggle, both past and present, that have led us to Stage 7 and 8 blackouts. And as a teaser for Daily Maverick’s Earth Edition Gathering next week, we have compiled a fascinating 20-page Earth Edition supplement for you.

Dear DM168 readers,

In our DM168 lead story two weeks ago, we warned you that like the ominous first episode of Game of Thrones, a long, cold, dark winter is coming to South Africa. 

That winter we described is here and as we predicted, acting Eskom CEO Calib Cassim has admitted that we could face the worst-case scenario of Stage 7 and 8 blackouts. 

Some in the ANC and EFF would like you to believe that this dire situation we find ourselves in was all the fault of former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter, who sang like a canary in a coal mine in his televised interview with Annika Larsen in February and in his recently launched tell-all book. 

But those who have been watching and living in this flickering zone of night and twilight since our first bout of load shedding in 2008, know that we are where we are because a once nationally loved and globally celebrated liberation movement of the people for the people transformed itself over over 29 years in power into a counter-revolutionary, narrow-interest, looting party of political and business elites, greedily devouring, and then burying in mounds of stinking hubris, the dream of a better life for all.

There is a long list of examples of the ANC’s descent from angels of hope to knights of squander and despair – from Fikile Mabula and the ANC Youth League’s bizarre posh-drinking-buddy and cash-snacks relationship with mining magnate Brett Kebble, to Jackie Selebi’s relationship with drug dealer Glenn Agliotti that landed the former police commissioner in jail.

There’s Jacob Zuma’s relationship with Schabir Shaik and the arms deal saga; his Nkandla; his opening the door to the Guptas’ freeloading; Cyril Ramaphosa’s Marikana mine massacre callousness; his Phala Phala dollars-in-couches craziness; and the Zondo Commission’s recommendation that former Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyana be investigated and prosecuted for corruption for allegedly accepting bribes from the late Gavin Watson’s Bosasa. 

That there are ANC lovies who care more for Johnny Walker Blue, Christian Dior and Aston Martins than the poor is patently and blatantly evident in an international report released this week on Grade 4 literacy.

The 2021 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study revealed that 81% of Grade 4 learners were unable to read for meaning in any of South Africa’s 11 official languages.

As reported by my colleague Tamsin Metelerkamp, previous iterations of the study in 2016 and 2011 put the percentage of Grade 4s who couldn’t read for meaning at 78% and 82%. 

The study laid bare our deep inequalities, revealing that the inability to read for meaning was not evident in English- and Afrikaans-speaking schools, but was in all other nine mother tongue languages. Our non-fee paying schools, which are meant to open the doors of learning to the urban and rural poor, are shutting them out. 

The situation has been exacerbated by the Education Department’s shutdown of schools and rotational learning during Covid, which has set back reading for meaning by a decade. 

The problem, however, is not new. The ANC has been so busy with its own internal power struggles finding time for different factions to eat at the banquet of power, that its main constituency, the poor, have been neglected and shut out of educational opportunities that could lead them out of poverty. 

Access to quality education is a globally recognised solution to poverty, so why is our government denying 82% of our country’s children a chance to improve their lives and those of generations to come?

If our country cared more for its children, much more attention would be spent on getting those millions of children who have lost out on a future just to read.

Nic Spaull, secretary of the 2030 Reading Panel and associate professor of economics at Stellenbosch University, has suggested many fundamental reforms in education that could do just this, starting with the way teachers are recruited; the way they’re trained; the way they’re certified; how education is financed; and the resourcing of schools. 

All of this can be done but as Spaull says: “None of those things are possible without tackling the politics that’s involved in South African education.”

And once again therein lies the rub. 

Write to me at [email protected] about this and any other issues you would like to discuss.

In this week’s DM168 we give you some deep insights into the politics of the power struggle, both past and present, that have led us to this heart of darkness that is Eskom and our electricity woes. Kevin Bloom writes about the Eskom files, those controversial Eskom intelligence reports, the corruption that has bedevilled Mpumalanga and then crosses over into the Kruger Park and conservation concerns. Marianne Thamm takes us into the heart of an older darkness, the Broederbond, apartheid-era spies and dirty tricks, the founders of Eskom and how all of this led to the broedertwis playing out in the Afrikaans press. It’s our Daily Maverick Earth Edition Gathering next week and we have compiled a fascinating 20-page Earth Edition supplement for you in this week’s paper.

Yours in defence of truth



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • rmrobinson says:

    The ANC is going hell for leather to destroy Afrikaans schools. As a beneficiary of one of these schools, I am very grateful for the excellent education I received, which enabled me to compete world wide. We were taught values of responsibility, integrity, duty, hard work and reliability. I am also very grateful not to be English monolingual, because, as an Afrikaner, I speak Dutch, German, French and am now learning my sixth language. The ANC will not rest before it has not destroyed everything in sight and even then, it will burrow down to keep destroying.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Thank GOD for DM , this is ungodly times where criminals,extremists ,syndicates, cartels and politicians are 1

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Is the comnunist Anc going to sell all mine able minerals to Commie countries?

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    I’m not convinced the ANC has a political policy of destroying everything it lays its hands on; it’s the learned behaviour of years of delinquency and neglect of the things that matter. As ACE is busy making anyone who’ll listen aware, the ANC is not likely to recover. I would be celebrating the ANC’s demise if there was anyone with half a reputation and policies worthy of popular support, but there are none. And so the vacuum, which the likes of ACE, John, and Julius could never fill or will their joint deficiencies provoke South Africans to arise and seize the moment. We can but hope and dream. Aluta continua!

    • William Dryden says:

      I disagree with your comment that there isn’t anyone with half a reputation and policies worthy of popular support. The only chance we have is to vote DA, as the biggest opposition party, they have solid proposals and plans. There is no other party or coalitions that rout out corruption than the DA.

    • Joe Soap says:

      One needs to ask the question of all those opposition bashers – do you think other parties and/or leaders should be given a chance or would be able to do better a better job than the current mismanagers – if one doesn’t think so then keep voting ANC/EFF/PA – otherwise I think it is better to stop undermining any possible party, leader or coalition – continual opposition bashing plays into the current governments hands.

      • Neil Grobler says:

        We need a government of national unity that excludes ANC . No matter how ill equipped. Only when power is transferred, does true democracy happen

  • idnankin says:

    South Africa is hurtling towards a dystopia hell. While de Ruyter was leading Eskom there was load shedding but it was sporadic. Now he has gone and there is a Minister of Electricity load shedding has become relentless and there is no end in sight.

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