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Implications of privatising Eskom for energy security – FF Plus cannot wait

(Debate in Parliament on the implications of privatising Eskom for energy security, as requested by the EFF)

The debate on privatising state enterprises is not only a common topic of discussion for economic theorists, but also a burning issue in specific contexts – when it touches on Eskom, for example.

Those fully committed to the concept of the free market are often pitted against those who support the developmental state. Both groups are convinced that their solution holds the greatest benefits for all peace-loving citizens.

Ordinary citizens are, however, less ideological; they want something that works and that they can afford.

When a central power supplier, like Eskom, supplies cheap and reliable power, the pressure for privatisation is much less than when the power supply is unreliable and expensive.

For decades, Eskom not only supplied power to the whole of South Africa, but it also helped to maintain the idealistic South African image of unity. The unity of this diverse subcontinent was created by networks of roads, railway lines, power grids and air traffic.

But now with crumbling roads, dilapidated railway lines and an airline whose wings have been clipped, unity is enforced by means of threats that power supply may be terminated. That is why regions, such as the Northern and Eastern Cape, allow themselves to be governed out of places like Johannesburg, Pretoria and even Nkandla.

Eskom, with its enormous power plants and tens of thousands of kilometres of power lines, is technologically interwoven with an outdated model of power supply. At present, the technology to generate cleaner power locally is readily available. Ordinary citizens are already, and increasingly, making use of it.

The debate asks what implications there will be for energy security if Eskom is privatised. The answer is nothing. It will be forced to start generating a profit or it will go under and the modern model of power supply will be given a chance to set the pace.

In contrast, the political implications will be much greater. South African regions will no longer have any reason to submit to a socialist South African state. These implications may very well be as dramatic as the liberation of Afrikaners and other minorities.

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