Positive signals come in the most surprising ways sometimes.
I have long held the view that there are several key issues where we need to see policy makers panicking, running around with arms flailing. Controlled panic is good in the political economy. It can move red lines and allow for deployment of political capital to overcome vested interests. It can create momentum and accountability.
This did not happen around the jobs summit in 2018. There was no necessary hysteria about the state of unemployment and resultant inequality. Vested interests kept their perspectives, their red lines were still in place and the result was the underwhelming status quo.
As such unemployment will slowly grind higher in the next two years even as the economy recovers. However, there has been focused panic on Eskom. And it is good. Surprisingly so.
The problems at Eskom are not new. It feels like we have been going around in circles before a slow car crash for 15 years.
Yet the ideas for resolution have always been there in countless ANC and government policy documents since 1994 and of course from energy-sector watchers and academics.
A lack of panic previously meant momentum could never be gained and those ideas couldn’t be deployed.