The Citizen (Gauteng)

We’re not powerless over graft

- Jennie Ridyard

Now we know, thanks to a News24 exposé, that corruption at Eskom ran so deep that neither the company, nor the country, has the capacity to pursue every crooked recipient of a money-stuffed under-the-table envelope – or more likely a money-stuffed Louis Vuitton suitcase.

For me, the final straw was learning that the value of the suspect contracts awarded could have vaccinated South Africa’s entire population twice over… Sorry… Make that 20 times over! I had to double check, because my brain couldn’t comprehend it: R178 billion!

That’s just for starters: another R800 billion’s worth of potentiall­y dodgy deals has been mooted.

To date, Eskom has reported 110 criminal cases to the police.

I think we may need internatio­nal help. After all, global suppliers are in the thick of it too, and while a palm greased with R30 million may be petty cash to a dollar-rich foreign conglomera­te, the domino effect is enormous.

The collapse of electrical infrastruc­ture has been catastroph­ic for SA. We look like a banana republic, our status turned to “junk” while the perpetrato­rs live like kings, operating above the law.

This must to be taken into account in the reckoning: not just the money taken, but the jobs lost, the businesses gone under, the people going hungry, those who have suffered, even died, because of this corruption.

The very fact that the term “load-shedding” has become part of the vernacular shows just how normalised this dire situation became, that we anticipate it, accept it, and we’re even grateful to be given a timetable for rolling blackouts so we can ready ourselves to eat beans cold out of a can. Again.

And the little people were repeatedly blamed, cut off, fined, overcharge­d, and punished for illegally stealing enough to cook their meagre dinner, or to power a spaza shop.

The country was left in the dark, literally, while those meant to right things lined their designer nests with Smeg appliances – presumably gas-powered.

So now we must tear open the whole stinking mess, throwing the book at all concerned to warn off every future little tin god considerin­g plating his (or her) life with stolen gold, at the cost of a country.

I’d almost be calling for the electric chair – but with load-shedding that could take a while.

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