The South African Electricity Supply Commission sees its task as to ‘render, by the provision of power without profit, a worthy and ever-increasing contribution to the development of South Africa and the welfare of her peoples’. (Escom 1948, cited in Christie 1984: 1)

Eskom will grow shareholder value by exceeding the needs of local and foreign customers with energy and related services. (Eskom 2006)

In 1987 the apartheid state amended the Electricity Act (No. 42 of 1922) and, amongst other things, scrapped the Electricity Supply Commission (Escom) which had been set up in 1923 as a result of the 1922 Act. In its place a parastatal called Eskom came into being. In many ways the change from Escom to Eskom (its Afrikaans translation) seemed a mere change in nomenclature. Indeed the 1987 change, as well as the Eskom Act (No. 41 of 1987) and, later, the post-apartheid Eskom Conversion Act (No. 13 of 2001) – which made Eskom subject to the Companies Act (No. 61 of 1973) and a dividend-paying, tax-paying entity – has largely been downplayed by commentators, given that Eskom remained a stateowned company.1