Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya says those who are calling for higher electricity tariffs have seen the reality.
And Siliya says UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema should donate his generator to Bweengwa Hospital in Southern Province instead of Chawama which already has a capable member of parliament.
Speaking during a media briefing jointly held with Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo, Thursday, Siliya said it was unfortunate that Zambians wanted cheap power when the cost of production was very high.
“In this country we have been discussing the tariff hikes for a long time and in the reality the slow pace of investment by Zesco has been because we have all wanted power cheaply considering that Zesco’s generation rate is higher than the rate they have been selling to us. So clearly the business model doesn’t work, and now we are facing reality that actually, shouldn’t power be more expensive than it is now. Now by law, for Zesco to increase tariffs, they have to do consultation, the ERB has to approve and ultimately the Zambians have to agree and this why you have seen in the past, whenever Zesco tried to hike prices, there was public outcry and government would listen to the people but now we have to face reality, is it the way we are going to continue managing? Because Zesco is having a lot of challenges which we the people have put on them by wanting power cheaply and yet it is [not] being generated cheaply. So those who are saying Zesco has to hike tariffs is because they have seen the reality, you eat your cake and have it,” Siliya said.
Siliya said there was need for government to provide incentives to those who were bringing alternative power sources into the country
“I think that to the private sector in the country and also to our colleagues in the Ministry of Commerce whom we might have to invite is to see how they can accelerate and provide incentives for those who are in the business of solar and in the business of generators and in the business of inventors that how quickly and how cheaply can they bring them in the country to make them available to all of us and we want to see ingenuity from the private sector to make other sources of power available. We know that change is very difficult for people. We are so used to say power is going to come from Zesco, the reality is that some power will come from Zesco, other power will have to come from inventors, from generators, from gas and from other sources,” she said.
“You have to change with time, I think it’s something that our people will have to see that this is a reality because climate change is a reality. So those are the interventions that government is making, first to orient our citizens that let us have mixed sources of energy at household level, which is immediate. In the medium to long term, we have to see businesses that want to invest in hydropower in the northern part of Zambia because we are being told that that’s where the rains will be for the many centuries to come.”
Meanwhile, Siliya asked Hichilema to donate a generator to Bweengwa Hospital in Southern Province because Chawama already has a capable member of parliament.
“We saw the other day an attempt by UPND to go and donate a generator at Chawama hospital. In fact, the Bible says that if you are giving, you don’t have to tell the whole town that you are giving. That’s what good Christianity is about and I will share with you that his Excellency President (Edgar) Lungu built a school in Bweengwa, the very place were president HH was born or grew up. And I know for certain that next to that is Bweengwa hospital which needs a generator, there is no power. So we would like to encourage the UPND to take the generator to Southern Province, to Bweengwa in particular and to the clinic next to the school that President Lungu built in that area and stop politicking because you see, you can’t be giving a generator in Chawama but where you come from there is a need,” said Siliya.
“You see let us stop politicking that must be very clear. Government welcomes any support but we would like UPND to give many generators to the many schools in Southern Province where there is no power, we would like to see that effort because we know that in Chawama, they have a member of parliament and I am sure he can address those issues because he has been trying to address and supporting [such projects] not just in Chawama but around the country.”