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OPINION - ANC: Once the saboteurs of SA’s power

By Matthew Collins - Jan 28, 2015
OPINION - ANC: Once the saboteurs of SA’s power

It appears that the ANC has had a destructive history with Eskom, once known as Escom. Let us take a look...

Armed Struggle

After several decades of peaceful and constitutional means in an attempt to gain political freedom, but to no avail, the ANC decided to engage in more militant methods along its road to freedom.

Umkhonto we Sizwe (Zulu for “Spear of the Nation”), commonly referred to as MK, was formed in 1961, in the wake of the Sharpeville Massacre, with the intention of stabbing at the heart of the apartheid government.

In the “Armed Struggle”, the ANC military-wing set their sights on various targets for sabotage, including power installations, with one of its first targets being an Escom Pylon in 1962.

Later examples of power-supplying structures (though not necessarily exhaustive), which the ANC struck, included the Lamontville power station in Durban on the 14th of April 1981; power-lines at Vrede in May of 1981; two transformers in Durban on the 21st of April 1981; power stations in the eastern Transvaal during July 1981; an Escom installation in Georgetown during February 1984; an Escom sub-station in Durban during August of 1984; an Escom sub-station in Rustenburg during September 1984; an Escom sub-station in Durban during September 1984; an Escom substation in Durban during April 1985 etcetera. 

Possibly the most well-known of these attacks was on the Koeberg nuclear-power station in 1982, whereby the station suffered heavy damage at the might of limpet mines; subsequently resulting in the postponement of the station’s completion by 18 months and costing as much as R500 million (in 1982) in damages. 


Jacob Zuma has pointed the finger on a lack of development planning, during apartheid, for the current power crisis; blaming the inconsideration of the apartheid government towards the black majority’s power needs.

However, one could argue that the apartheid government’s development planning, even if focused on the white minority, was in itself hindered significantly by the saboteurs of the ANC’s MK and the perceived threat of the “Armed Struggle”.   

Therefore, with regard to the current power crisis, the country finds itself in a historical stalemate (with both sides bearing the blame) in that the apartheid government discrimnated in its development and supply of power and in that the ANC seeked to destroy and destabalise power structures it would eventually inherit.

Furthermore, and in light of over 20-years of democracy, leader of the EFF, Julius Malema, has been quoted in saying that "we cannot blame apartheid that we failed to build extra capacity."

Main image courtesy of: law2.umkc.edu