It’s without question that Alec Erwin should be fired. The bungling socialist is useless, ineffecient and inept. He does not have the capacity to lead the Department of Public Enterprises. He does not have the spine to admit this either.
The only reason why he and his other colleagues hang onto their jobs is his unswerving dogmatic loyalty to the President. He’s prepared to stand in the firing line for many of the policy flops and strategy failures that Thabo Mbeki should be held accountable for.
At least we can experience some consolation in humour. Anton Harber, former editor of Mail & Guardian and now a proffesor of journalism at Wits defines an “Erwinisim” in his must-read Business Day column.
This neologism, “Erwinism”, has two meanings in my lexicon. It could be a statement so stupidly dishonest that it exemplifies what is worst about a complacent, arrogant government minister who has been in his job for too long. Or it could mean “to speak in muffled tones”, as in how one would sound if one’s head was so far up the president’s butt that one’s brain was not getting sufficient oxygen.
And here, in a fascinating article on the Eskom electricity shortage debacle, the Mail & Guardian has collected some of those Erwinisms. Crazy but true:
- “You cannot find as reliable and as long-term an electricity contract in the world today as Eskom can give you.” (February 2006, in an interview with the Mail &Guardian)
- “I am confident that South Africa as a whole will not be plunged into darkness.” (January 2007, in a statement to Reuters)
- “One of South Africa’s economic and industrial strengths is the quantity and efficiency of its electricity supplies.” (August 2005, speaking at a PBMR suppliers’ conference)
- “Although timelines in respect of implementation of the [Eskom] build programmes are tight, we are satisfied with the progress to date.” (Budget speech, May 2007)
- “What no one predicted a few years ago was that we would be caught napping by our own economic success. Fortunately we are well placed to respond to this lapse.” (March 2006, opinion article for Bua News Online)
- “Pressure on energy systems is a reality at present and we have the resources to change this. We are doing this, but with the care and professionalism needed.” (March 2006, after the Koeberg power station shutdown)
- “We are at the leading edge of the [pebble bed modular reactor] technology … we would have been just plain foolish not to do it.” (February 2006, asked by the M&G why he was splashing out on the PBMR instead of short-term power needs)
- “To have a well-functioning [power system] is a hell of an important asset. There is a tremendous lay person misunderstanding of the sophistication of this economy.” (July 2005, in an interview with the M&G)
- “There is no national energy crisis … the reserve margin is lower than we would like, but this situation is not uncommon in the world today.” (March 2006 in Parliament, after power cuts in the Western Cape).