UPND deputy secretary general for administration Gertrude Imenda has asked the government to subsidise energy for cooking to encourage people to switch to alternative sources of energy and minimise deforestation through charcoal burning.

Speaking to News Diggers in an interview, Imenda said the country was currently in a dire situation of power crisis that needed immediate interventions by government such as subsidies for cooking energy such as liquefied petroleum gases (LPGs).

“What the government should have done in terms of energy for cooking, there should have been a deliberate policy to subsidise, for the sake of saving our forests, and just helping us generally since Zesco is not helping because they are in this problem… subsidise LPGs and also even kerosene because there are some kerosene stoves which have been developed by some people and they can be used. That way, we all won’t have to depend on charcoal. Then for this issue of climate change, partly we are responsible because we have cut our forests. If you went to Western Province before, there were big trees there but now you hardly find a big tree. All that is because of failed policies of the government,” Imenda said.

She said investments in alternative sources of energy must be actualised.

“We are blessed with so many water bodies but we have failed to invest in them, we just want to be putting pressure on the Kariba and Kafue. We need to also invest in alternative sources of energy but it is just a lip service, implementation is another thing with this government. They make pronouncements that they do not implement. For example, there was the issue of investing in other energy sources like Solar power. If we did this, we could have relieved pressure on hydro-electric power. At domestic level also, because now what is going to happen is that there is going to be demand for charcoal and this will increase pressure on the forests, our trees are going to be exterminated,” said Imenda.

“Then the other reason for the problem we are grappling with now is debt. Our debt now is close to US$19 billion. But when they first took the Eurobond, part of that money I understand went to Zesco, what did they do with that money? Nobody is even accounting for that money. What did Zesco do with that money? So again, that’s mismanagement. The government should have looked at these things and we would not have been in this dire need that we are in. We are in very big trouble now, power is just going anyhow.”