Dear Reader:Fifty shades of dark

The situation at Eskom is dire; according to experts to whom Noseweek has spoken, it is past recovery or, in any event, beyond South Africa’s means to rescue.

Let’s not kid ourselves: the state of Eskom is symbolic of the state of just about every public institution in South Africa today. The reason is as obvious: government corruption and mismanagement, starts right at the top with President Jacob Zuma, whose dark shadow has cast a crippling chill over every aspect of our society.

At Eskom, as elsewhere, they have meddled in the appointment of senior executives and the negotiation of major contracts; equally lethal has been the ANC’s so-called “broad-based” black economic empowerment policy – which has multiplied Eskom’s contractor costs and the costs of its coal and diesel supplies; its “transformation” policies have resulted in unsuitable appointments to technical jobs based on race rather than appropriate qualifications. 

The story is told in greater detail in this issue. (Eskom:it's downhill all the way)

The only real solution to all of this is to get rid of the ultimate cause: President Zuma and his cronies everywhere. While he is there, as sure as hell the lights will continue to go out.

Quite apart from his self-serving disposition, by now it is clear that he and his cabinet haven’t got a clue how to deal with the collapse of every institution under their control – and that they don’t much care about it either.

There are some signs that while the mass of ANC members can apparently be fooled most of the time, they can’t all be fooled all of the time. The ANC in Gauteng has declared its independence of Zuma’s Zulu empire. It is actively making plans to generate its own electricity as Eskom continues to collapse: revamping old power stations, covering it’s office buildings in solar panels, installing gas generators in all its hospitals. Where they lead, may others follow.


For several years now we have carried, with their kind permission, a regular page or two of copy from Africa Confidential, one of the world’s most reliable and insightful sources of current information on business and politics in Africa, as seen from a European perspective.

Both the information and the AC perspective are of value – the latter, I would think, particularly to African readers who need to keep an eye on what the rest of the world makes of developments in Africa.

Generally we have chosen articles relating to developments in other African countries in which South Africans might have a special interest. Occasionally we choose their most recent report and analysis of events in our own country – precisely for that perspective which it offers on events we probably already know about. Their report in this issue (No-fly-zone for legal eagles) on the decline in independence of South Africa’s top criminal justice institutions – which they describe as a “legal no-fly-zone” – is a must-read.

First take note of what they have noticed – because that is what many diplomats and serious foreign investors (their regular readers) will absorb. Finally, you will agree: their cool, clear analysis puts it in a nutshell! Even if, as a Noseweek reader, you’ve known it all along.


Members of the Cape’s aristocracy with children at Western Province Preparatory School, better known as Wetpups, are said to be up in arms after discovering that a new learner there is the son of a notorious Cape Flats gangster.

What would the Gettys say? Whoops?

We’d say: “Welcome brother! There’s nothing like having connections in the right places.”


A Noseweek reader, hoping to do some serious business with Nedbank’s Private Wealth division, sent an email note to the designated bank official. The official, who happened not to be in, had set her computer to send the following automatic reply:

“Good day and thank-you for your email.

Not in – no access to e-mail, no auto-forwarding.

Have a Fifty Shades of Grey weekend!”

Which is not quite what the businessman had in mind when he contacted Nedbank’s premier division, so he called another bank that, he hopes, will take his business more seriously.

The Editor


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