The last thing South Africa's economy needed was another round of load shedding. It certainly did not need the unprecedented phase of stage six. If it persists this week, the economy could be tipped into a recession -- or deeper into the throes of one -- and any hope for growth in 2019 will probably be lights out.
December is always South Africa's most unproductive month. From Friday, a big "Gone Fishing" sign will be hung over Gauteng and other centres of industry. The economy will pretty much close up shop for the festive season, with only the retail and holiday sectors still firing on all cylinders. But they need the power to do so.
And that is in short supply at the moment as Monday marked five straight days of load shedding by power utility Eskom. Stage 4, which removes 4,000 MW from the grid, is sadly no longer an unprecedented event in summer. It happened in March of 2019, and the economy contracted 3.1% that quarter, a performance in large part blamed on the power outages.
Now, on late Monday, Eskom moved to stage six -- which means 6,000 MW have been cut -- citing "a technical problem...