The reader wonders if Eskom may be a blessing in disguise. File Photo: IOL

JOHANNESBURG – Particularly over the past decade, every aspect of South Africa has been eroded by skewed transformation policies. 

Initially, the erosion of our institutions, on its path to total destruction, manifested almost unnoticed and unhindered, simply because very few dared to criticise it openly.

Those who dared to venture into this ‘forbidden territory’, had to do it so carefully and so diplomatically, that it caused far too little discomfort. Even well-meant criticism was simply brushed aside and depicted as anti-transformation, anti-revolutionary and labelled racist – reminiscent of the past. 

King Solomon cautioned that “when the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong”. Ecc. 8:11.

The full impact of many misguided policies is still awaiting South Africa. 

If the decay of the last decade, in almost all spheres, caused by distorted transformation policies, cadre deployment and patronage, with accompanying disastrous inefficiencies, entitlement and corruption – policies which only cause steep social and economic decline with not a single example of success – was to dawn upon South Africa suddenly, the nation would be horrified. 

Unfortunately, it is only slowly dawning upon us, bit by bit. Like the frog in warm water, we are almost getting accustomed to it, resigned to the inevitable, even apologetic about it, tolerate it and, worst of all, even justifying it – the good men standing by doing nothing or simply not enough.

But then, with a stroke of luck, Eskom happened. When the lights went out, everybody (that is with the exception of the populists and the nationalists) realised that it is these policies, more than anything else, that caused the downfall of Eskom, with the risk of collapsing South Africa.

There must have been a realisation, at least with some, that exactly these policies inevitably have a similar effect on every institution where these policies have left its mark – education, health, infrastructure, the SABC, the Post Office, SAA, Transnet - the list goes on and on. 

It is, however, not only the institution being severely affected; it is the social fibre of society which is eroded. The erosion happened slowly at first, even hard to detect. 

Then it accelerated, became more visible, coinciding with society being unable to respond - out of fear of being out of touch and out of favour with the so-called ‘progressive movement’.

In Eskom’s case we are fortunate that the lights actually went out - at least for a brief period; hopefully long enough for the wise among us to perceive the consequences of continuing with these foolish and reckless policies and actions. It forced our leadership to act – somewhat decisively – at least in the case of Eskom.

In other spheres of society, unfortunately, the ‘lights do not go out’; at least not suddenly. Poor education, as an example, can continue into perpetuity – sucking up billions, wasted on poor educators (of course there are many exceptions). 

The danger here is that our eyes simply get used to the fading ‘light’, but the eventual impact, as in many critical areas, will be worse than the lights actually going out, as in the case of Eskom.