Deputy president David Mabuza , Minister Jackson Mthembu and President Cyril Ramaphosa launch the District Model at the Princess Magogo Stadium, KwaMashu Township the aim of the prooject to accelerate, align and integrate service delivery under a single development plan per district or metro that is developed jointly by the national, provincial and local government as well as business, labour and community in each district. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)
LIKE a bad dream, load-shedding entered the lives of South Africans again this week, breaking previous promises that the last time would be the final one.

Alas, it was not to be.

The power utility is fast becoming a bottomless pit into which billions of rand that we can ill afford - that should and could have been spent on countless other projects if we had had the money - are apparently being extorted from us at will, because the alternative is simply too ghastly to contemplate.

But where does the spin end and the truth begin?

The New Dawn is a year-and-a-half old, we keep being told that everything is working until it’s not, and we are literally plunged into darkness.

Amid the ever-shifting goalposts of PR excuses, we are told the utility is ridiculously over-staffed, yet inefficient and arrogantly resistant to any meaningful intervention.

There is a disconnect which is only becoming worse. If it’s not tropical cyclones, it’s maintenance.

The government wants to grow the economy, yet each time power is cut, tens of thousands of small businesses - the job drivers of the short- to middle-term - are forced ever closer to the abyss of financial ruin as the big employers see their profitability plummet and start looking at cutting even more jobs, while hiking the costs of the products they sell.

All the while, the elephant in the room remains: Eskom’s growing debt pile that needs to be serviced in an economy that is forever on the threshold of recession.

Ramaphosa will find out very soon there is a limit to the patience of international lenders and the long-suffering South African consumers.

He will have to act resolutely and quickly for this apparently intractable mess not to define him as much as the theft of a nation’s birthright defined his predecessor.