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EDINBURGH — It’s been a big week in politics in the UK, starting with Britons outraged and then relieved that a teenager who joined the Islamic State fight in Syria as a housewife has been stripped of her British citizenship and ending with significant resignations from both major parties. South Africa has also been eventful, with Eskom woes dominating the headlines as it has been identified as a major risk to the country’s prosperity. Taking full advantage of developments is satirist Simon Lincoln Reader, who cuts through the PCness in his unique, and decidedly unPC, style. – Jackie Cameron
By Simon Lincoln Reader*
Pravin Gordhan has admitted that South Africans “deserve an explanation” regarding the failure of Eskom. Unfortunately he is still a member of the ANC, so sadly cannot be considered a reliable witness.
I have an explanation. Between 2002 and 2014 I worked senior managers and engineers in Demand Side Management, or DSM, and then in the IPP. Many of these people I remember as some of the nicest I have ever encountered – responsive, objective and unfailingly polite. I suspected this was in part due to the legacy of Dr. Ian McRae, Eskom’s first CEO, who understood service so well simply because he understood his job so well, and was terrifically good at it.
What has happened to Eskom is not the fault of the engineers, obviously, rather the result of the convergence of three forces upon the executive.
The first is cadre deployment, positioning people in institutions simply because they belong to a particular way of thinking. Without a single example of success to justify its existence, cadre deployment is just a form ideological retardation and paranoia.
The second force was the type of cadre deployed into the senior executive.
In the early 2000s, a style of management consultancy arrived at Eskom. It had come from America and was impressing shareholders with spikes in short term profits. Later it would be revealed as jumped-up asset stripping, pioneered by a company called Bain Capital, under the leadership of a man called Mitt Romney.
How it would work at Eskom was not complicated: turn 5 skilled engineers into 1 in a practise as suddenly incentivised executive foolishly believed just as applicable to a power behemoth as it was to a mid-size, underperforming coal mine.
At this point, around the mid 2000s, Eskom was being reduced to an absurdity: identity politics was co-operating with hostile capitalism, and this in turn captured the attention of those who shared Jacob Zuma’s world view, most because they believed it would advance their own financial interests, some just because they are hopelessly stupid.
So greed became the third and final force. It was accelerated under the authority of Ben Ngubane – a man who in any sensible country would be banned from company directorship, possibly gearing up for long-ish incarceration, along with Anoj Singh, Brian Molefe and the increasingly neurotic Matshela Koko (now ostensibly an EFF supporter).
Call it failure architecture.
Its been 30 years since that charmingly lucid fellow Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini issued the fatwa against the author Salman Rushdie, so the British have decided to examine exactly how this incident has impacted contemporary race/religious relations – by looking, predictably, up their own bottoms.
This anniversary, remembered with podcasts and interviews – none of which dared mention the poor mental wellbeing of Sayyid – has coincided with two remarkable events: firstly, the discovery of a teenage Jihadi bride originally from Bethnal Green in a refugee camp, and secondly, the announcement that the Labour party has effectively split, with 8 of its MPs resigning to form an independent group which will in all likelihood vote on Liberal Democrat lines.
The Jihadi bride, Shamima Begum, has now been stripped of her citizenship. In an interview with the BBC, she expressed zero remorse for her behaviour and more, insinuated that the Manchester Arena terrorist attack of 2017 was justified. But this view is not outrageous; a great many supporters of Jeremy Corbyn – including some in Parliament – share it privately, the belief that their country is so appalling and thus deserved of atrocity.
Scapegoating Jews, such is the culture of modern Labour, became all too much for the 8. But the party responded by re-admitting Derek Hatton, a militant Scouser-Trot who dabbles in a bit of anti-semitism occasionally. 48 hours post his readmission, he was suspended again, when a new set of anti-semitic tweets he had published surfaced.
Ek het some baie flippin lekker nuus vir julle: Vrye Weekblad is back, en dis bought to you by daai mense wat own Sunday Times en het eentyd employ baie trustworthy en balanced individuals soos Stephan Hofstatter, Mzilikazi Wa Afrika en Piet Rampedi. Dit wil exklusif in Afrikaans geskryf wees, digitaal eintlik, en die progressif en liberaal Max du Preez wil hold court met positief views, ek raai, van mense soos Jeremy Corbyn. Dis n ander editorship vir Max, omdat hy alreeds edits News24.com, want sy vriend Adriaan Basson is baie bang vir upsetting swart mense so altyd call upon Max vir spiritual guidance. Ek is baie excited not least at the prospect van n konfrontasie tussen Max en Gillian Schutte, a wit vrou wat in sy kop so siek is, omdat dit wil be ’n match to determine WIE IS DIE BETER WHITEY? Geniet!
- Simon Lincoln Reader lives in London.