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President Ramaphosa must step up to the challenge

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Omry Makgoale is a rank and file member of the ANC. These are his personal views.

Step up, President Ramaphosa, we cannot afford to see you fail as the chief executive of South Africa. Your failure will be a disaster for the country.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, you are known to be a competent negotiator, but right now South Africa needs you to be a competent manager. The country needs you to upgrade your management skills. The key is the ability to appoint competent individuals to your team, people who can manage all strategic departments prudently.

Every time you get shocked – whether it’s by the deplorable Prasa train services in Pretoria/Tshwane or Eskom power failures – it does not reflect well on your management team, even though the problems did not begin in your term of office. The shocks are a reflection that you have deployed or retained incompetent people in the failing sectors, people who did not make you aware of the important issues, either because of their ignorance, or because they are ill-equipped, or worse still… because they want to sabotage you.

Yet, whoever sabotages you, sabotages the country.

Eskom has been on your radar from 2015 when you were appointed to take charge of the war room by former president Jacob Zuma. It appears that you never really gave it proper attention then. Your recent amazement about the size of Medupi Power Station reveals a lot.

Load shedding is a result of poor maintenance of the fleet of power stations. South Africa has installed power capacity of more than 50,000MW and the current maximum electricity demand is 33,000MW but we can hardly supply that. It reflects that more than 20,000MW of installed capacity is out for planned maintenance estimated to be 5,000MW and unplanned maintenance in excess of 12,000MW.

Most of Eskom’s problems are due to corruption. Eskom money has been paying for fraudulent services such as Trillian and the Guptas’ illicitly acquired mines in Mpumalanga. This is money that could have been used to maintain the power stations.

To clean up and save the country, we urgently also need to clean up the police management, the Hawks, and the intelligence and security services. The hollowing that took place under Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane, Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli and Lieutenant-General Berning Ntlemeza has still not been adequately addressed. Most criminals walk free in the streets as a result. The killers of Senzo Meyiwa are still walking free more than four years after he was murdered.

This is your responsibility, but what are you doing about it?

All illegal contracts should be cancelled. The crooks who have looted Eskom resources to bankruptcy should be investigated, arrested and prosecuted. Otherwise, we will not stop the current rot.

Load shedding is destroying the economy as well as the livelihood of ordinary South Africans, and it will lead to an economic recession.

The Eskom project managers and executive managers who have been responsible for Medupi and Kusile power stations should be held accountable and brought to book. We cannot continue to be fed a litany of excuses. We need delivery and not slogans.

You need to appoint competent people who will keep you informed on a 24-hour basis if required. You cannot live by surprises all the time. It is fatal for the confidence of the country.

When a unit generating electricity at a power station breaks down, the shift supervisor informs the unit production manager who in turn informs the station operations manager and subsequently the power station manager. The power station manager informs the chief of generation who informs the chief executive of Eskom. The chief executive of Eskom informs the minister of public enterprises who must inform the president. This communication relay should be done in less than two hours in a worst-case scenario.

Your journey to Cairo could not have been undertaken with knowledge of possible Stage 6 load shedding if command and control in Eskom functioned properly – unless actual saboteurs knew about your intended journey and the flight schedules, and timed the trip to coincide with your flight departure. If this was the case, it would indeed be frightening – that those close to you, who know your travelling itinerary and schedules, are also linked to the power stations’ operators.

This question must be cleared up straight away.

But after the Guptas captured Eskom executives and management such as Brian Molefe and Anoj Singh, anything is possible.

We urgently need a spring-cleaning of the Eskom board and management. All standing contracts should be reviewed and questionable ones set aside.

South Africa cannot afford your failures. We all must make sure you succeed. Your success is success for the country and your failure is our failure.

So step up, President Ramaphosa, step up! We need leadership, not excuses. DM

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