But over the past year, we have seen glimmers of hope in a national energy plan – though sadly, there are no confirmed dates of when many plan elements will be delivered.

From a change management perspective, implementing such a plan is clearly one of massive change and requires an equal amount of commitment and the will to make it happen. However, as South Africans, we have seen the pitfalls of executing vastly complex plans without managing the change, and by this, I refer to one of our more recent public service examples: one being the failed maintenance of the e-tolls system.

Recent media analysis has labelled the road-tolling project an utter failure, with the government indirectly admitting it as well. I believe that by looking back at the handling of the e-tolls, we can learn much about just how difficult change can be when specific vital components of change management are missing – and determine new solutions to assist with the load-shedding crisis.


This is one of the most critical outcomes sought in organisational change. How people affected by the change incorporate new mindsets and ways of working in a new environment reflects levels of leader involvement, communication and coalition and, consequently, their commitment to change.

It’s vital to ensure that essential elements, like budget, change management strategy and processes, are put in place. When the e-tolls first made their way into the public realm, there were attempts to enforce fines on those who refused to pay, and this resulted in a legal matter that rose to the Constitutional Court. However, as civil disobedience around the system grew, with few victories for Sanral in the courts, this commitment lessened. However, rather than scrapping the system, accepting the failure, and learning from it, there continued to be half-hearted threats around fines and plans to possibly save the tolls.

To solve the load-shedding conundrum, we will have to see more sustained commitment, budgetary allocations and coalitions that facilitate commitment and more articulate, ongoing updates on the government’s strategy to end it.


Naturally, the sheer scale of a societal change (and the development of vital infrastructure) can make it more difficult than organisational change. However, the principles remain the same. If you want cooperation, you must build awareness in people that they need to change and express what the change looks like – which may include managing expectations around what the next few years hold. However, we can’t place the blame entirely on leadership, as perhaps we as a society haven’t been loud enough in our disdain for load-shedding.

We can ask ourselves, what more could we have done to insist on inclusivity (an enshrined value in our constitution) in determining how we fund some areas of infrastructural growth without depleting other areas, and what and how would we be happy to pay up for this growth. We certainly made it clear around e-tolls, which ultimately led to dismantling a dysfunctional system.

As we celebrate this December and commemorate the Day of Reconciliation, we must remember our own roles in effecting change.