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One day of rolling blackouts costs SA economy up to R3bn

JOHANNESBURG – Just one day of rolling black outs costs the country’s economy up to R3 billion, says Bonang Mohale, CEO of Business Leadership SA.

Mohale was addressing a group of Stellenbosch University alumni at an event in Cape Town on Friday.

“Eskom was just used as a repository of cronies. It was the place where the whole process of state capture started,” said Mohale.

“If Eskom goes down, we all go down.”

He pointed out that two thirds of the debt of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in SA comes from Eskom. Over the years the number of employees at Eskom also bloated to 48 000.

Mohale said, ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos earlier this year, the BLSA demanded that the Eskom board be fired because it played such an important role in the process of state capture.

“We need to grow the size of the SA economy. It must be inclusive socio-economic growth, which, by definition, is transformative.”

He emphasised that business cannot continue to be “an island of prosperity in a sea of poverty”.

“Business must do well by doing good. When most of us go on a picnic we carry much more than we need. If we put all we have in a pot and share it, then there will be more than enough for everyone,” said Mohale.

“It is about the notion of lifting all as you rise yourself. My grandmother used to say: ‘When your neighbour is hungry, you are the one who cannot sleep.'”

He added that fixing Eskom should be just the start of turning around all SOEs because they can be engines of growth for the SA economy.

“In fact, we must fix all government institutions. We also need to continue to attract and retain foreign direct investment (FDI) and play by the rules of ratings agencies. No political pronouncements will change that,” said Mohale.

“Gone are the days where business used to fold its arms, saying it is government’s job to fix the economy. That is why the BLSA rolled up its sleeves and asked what business can do.”

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