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The Witness

The political v alue of electricity - posted 15 Jan 2020

While striving to transform South Africa into a socialist state, what is remarkable is the ANC’s failure to appreciate the historical role electrification played in the transformation of Russia into a communist state.

Within two years of seizing power in Russia, on Lenin’s orders an electrification commission was established. Its 500 page report in 1920 detailed plans for the construction of a network of 30 regional power stations.

Electrification was regarded as a priority for the industrialisation of the USSR. Lenin also understood the political value of bringing electricity to farms and villages across Russia. Bare light bulbs, called “Ilyich lamps” after Lenin’s second name, illuminating peasant homes conveyed a very tangible message to the masses of the achievement of communism.

By not only failing to expand the capacity of the Eskom grid but hastening its demise through lack of maintenance and mismanagement, the ANC is committing a huge political mistake. For there is only negative propaganda value in load-shedding because, for once, that cannot be blamed on apartheid.

Nothing can be more damning for a regime than its failure to keep the lights on. The transformation message the ANC is propagating through Eskom’s failure is one of de-industrialisation, disinvestment, further unemployment, further social distress. Hardly reasons to vote ANC or to celebrate its vintage.