ADD president Charles Milupi says it is ridiculous for Vice-President Inonge Wina to think that the “stay at home” recommendation has increased electricity consumption when power shortages have always been there before the disease outbreak.

Commenting on Vice-President Wina’s claim that electricity consumption had increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, Milupi said that there was no logic in what she said because industries and factories closed, while households could also not use much electricity due to long load shedding hours.

He challenged government to explain the real cause of Zambia’s ongoing power deficit rather than spreading falsehoods.

“That statement is not technically accurate. It’s ridiculous that these people are using Zesco for collecting money. Zambian homes are not like European homes where a man and a woman are both working and during the day they all go out of the home. Our homes, whether you are at home or not, things are happening, those who are at home remain cooking. And these complaints of the (fast-depleting) units didn’t happen during the time when people started staying home. This problem has been with us for a long time. It started when they talked about increasing tariffs by 200 per cent. Immediately they made that announcement, we started seeing that the units were depleting fast,” Milupi said.

“I have a building in Western Province where we were using electricity units worth K400 per month. The moment they did this, it went to K2,000, but nothing has changed in terms of usage. So, to imply that people are using more electricity is not correct. The PF government must be honest with the Zambian people. If we have got problems, be honest so that the Zambian people can support you. Don’t tell things that are not factual.”

Milupi said the shutting down of some industries during the COVID-19 pandemic should actually have drastically reduced electricity usage.

“The amount of cooking in homes has not gone up because of COVID-19. They should address the cost of electricity. It’s the same government that has been employing cadres, who are increasing the cost to government like vehicles, fuel, and so on, which forces government to do this. We had the 18 hours of load shedding, meaning that automatically people are using less electricity. For example, for 12 hours, you have no electricity at home and whether or not you want to cook, power is not there. Industries were not working; businesses were closing so the electricity usage should have drastically gone down. Now, they have been clever and they pushed up this consumption of units and maintained the same level of income into Zesco. Why can’t she (Wina) explain it like that?” Milupi wondered.

He insisted that there was no logic in anything the PF government did.

“Zesco continued to operate at the same level that they were operating before when they were producing less electricity. Their customers are consuming less because there is no electricity. Let them just look at the cost of these electricity units. There is no logic to anything that the PF is doing. They have failed to run things! Zesco needed to be funded the same level as if they were producing all the electricity before load shedding,” said Milupi.

Last Friday, Vice-President Wina told MPs during Vice-President’s Question Time in Parliament that electricity consumption had increased during the COVID-19 pandemic when asked if government was considering lowering power tariffs.

“Government has received some presentations on the issue of Zesco tariffs. But the country should be aware that the tariff increment came at a time when the Load Management programme was between 12-14 hours, and currently is standing between eight to 10 hours [in a day]. This impacted the rate of consumption of electricity units for households. And there has been a fundamental shift following continued efforts to reduce the load shedding hours. Additionally, with the COVID-19, ‘Stay Home and Stay Safe’ has increased consumption of electricity because of the notable increase in the use of gadgets by households,” claimed Vice-President Wina.