South Africa: How Jacob Zuma helped destroy Eskom

By Romain Chanson
Posted on Monday, 9 May 2022 11:02

Electric pylons owned by Eskom in Soweto, South Africa, in March 2021. © Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters.

The Zondo commission’s fourth report accuses South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma of having helped the Gupta brothers take control of Eskom, Africa's largest electricity producer, and weakening a company that is now heavily in debt.

Corruption sometimes manifests itself as a light going out. In 2021, electricity was cut off for 1,136 hours (47 days) in South Africa.

That year, compared to 2020, load shedding was up 37%, a figure that has been steadily increasing since 2018. The fault lies with Eskom, the state-owned electricity company. After years of embezzlement and mismanagement, the company is now forced to operate regular load shedding due to breakdowns and maintenance operations. These blackouts weaken the economy and enrage South Africans, whose security (electric fences, cameras, alarms, etc.) also depends on power.