New air of hope flows through ANC

It has been approximately a month since a not entirely new breed of leadership took power in the ANC.

Many read into the even spread of supporters of the new president of the governing party, Cyril Ramaphosa, and his defeated opponent, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in the upper structures of the party as a form of paralysis that might render him a lame duck president.

The jury to a large extent is still out on that score, but the signs of a significant shift from the President Jacob Zuma style of doing things are encouraging, and the rule of law seems to be firmly on the agenda.

One development has been the speed with which the government - obviously at the behest of the new order - has moved to sort out the mess that is Eskom.

Ramaphosa, as deputy president of the country, put the power utility under the oversight of a team of ministers with himself at the helm. He announced businessman Jabu Mabuza as the new chairman of the Eskom board and Phakamani Hadebe as the new interim CEO.

It is an unequivocal statement of intent. Eskom, and the goings-on there, has been a symbolic window into the Presidency's seriousness about getting things done the right way. The country experienced debilitating power outages in 2008 and onwards which were blamed initially on the refusal of the Thabo Mbeki administration to heed warnings that SA needed to increase capacity to keep pace with growing demand and development.

It later emerged that his successor sought to exploit the fear for the paralysing outages of the load-shedding era that no doubt contributed to the struggling economy we have today.

Getting those marginalised in their overwhelming millions involved meaningfully in the economy is the single biggest challenge facing the government.

Seeking to cure a vital cog such as Eskom of its ailments is therefore welcome. At the same time, the probe and pursuit of the thieves who brought it to its knees and those who aided and abetted the theft must go ahead unhindered.

SA will be watching with keen interest the appearance this week of former acting CEO Matshela Koko before parliament's inquiry into the alleged capture of Eskom by private interests.

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