South Africa is having a series of hard conversations. Many should have been had years ago. Unfortunately, humans do not generally like facing difficult issues and making unpleasant decisions. Therefore, we tend to defer them until deferral is no longer an option.
Speaking on Monday 14 October at the FT Africa Summit in London, President Cyril Ramaphosa discussed several of the dilemmas South Africa can no longer avoid.
The first issue revolves around the role the private sector can play in state-owned companies, many of which have proved to be inefficient and prone to corruption. As a result, several - including SAA and Eskom - are facing a mounting debt burden that is unsustainable. The situation is so dire that the government now appears ready to consider buyers for Eskom's older power stations to extend their life-span. This is a massive step forward from only a few years ago when any potential sale of state assets was deemed to be a sell-out. Eskom will consume R49-billion in taxpayers' money in the current fiscal year, which ends on 31 March 2020, and R56-billion the following year.
If the situation is not stabilised, it will repeat in the years to come.