THE PF government are to blame for Zesco Limited’s incompetence through the continued employing of cadres and mismanagement of the power utility, says Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) president Charles Milupi.
And Milupi says government must concentrate more on addressing Zesco’s incompetence rather than focus on cancelling the Bulk Supply Agreement (BSA) between Zesco and Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) Plc, which expires at the end of this month.
Commenting on Zesco’s pronouncement that it decided to resume the 10 to 12 load shedding schedule, Milupi said that the PF had robbed Zesco’s ability to provide high quality service to Zambians, as evidenced by the consistent employment of party cadres to the power utility.
“First of all, Zesco itself should have its own reserves, it is not just the country that should have reserves; any company should have reserves. You see, any company should have reserves when you reach difficult times, you can use those reserves to mitigate you own circumstances. Does Zesco have reserves? No, they don’t! Has Zesco been producing profits? No, they haven’t! Why? That being the biggest parastatal remaining, now, it is grossly abused by those in power. Just talk to anybody all those who were in government, they will tell you exactly what happens; these parastatals are used during campaigns; they are told: ‘bring money!’ This is common knowledge; cadres are employed. Resulting from that, you are running a company that is living hand to month,” Milupi said in an interview.
“In order to get it going, you really have to be professionals; you have to understand what do shareholders expect out from the company? Instead of expecting a normal company to operate and generate normal revenues, they are getting these services for themselves under the table employing their cadres; employing their relatives, getting inefficient contracts and so on. So, that efficiency is definitely not there because the people that are there are incompetent, but the appointing authority, they are expecting wrong things to be done by those employed, otherwise they lose their jobs! So, a normal company should have its on capacity to deal with. Zesco has been robbed of the ability to have any capacity at all. You don’t just need competent people in Zesco, you need competent people in government, too. We need competency, not only in Zesco, but in government; when you get cadres, now, and make them permanent secretaries, and they are answerable to politicians, you have lost it.”
He said the PF’s “wild expenditure” had crippled the country’s ability to effectively deal with heightened load shedding hours.
“What is worrying is the response of government and those in power; we see wild statements. I think at the height of the load shedding around December, January, you heard people like GBM say, ‘within two months, load shedding will be a thing of the past.’ Obviously, they were looking at it that the onset of the rainy season that everything will be back to normal. We can’t interpret against nature, but what we can do, if we have an organized government, we can undertake measures to mitigate against circumstances of nature where we have low water levels. When you have a crisis, government is able to take from those reserves to smooth over the crisis point. Zambia, since PF came in, because of their wild expenditure on consumer items, these projects that we see, wiped out the reserves. Right now, we have three weeks’ (import) cover, maybe less that three weeks’ import cover in the the reserves,” he said.
“So, there is no capacity whatsoever, now, to mitigate what is happening on our inability to generate electricity. Ordinary government could come in and import power because we may (be) short right now, but Mozambique has power because the water that we are seeing going through our system is ending up in Cabora Bassa; we can’t import that power because we don’t have the money. There’s also other operations that can generate power off-shore of Mozambique and link to the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) grid, but we can’t afford to do that because we haven’t paid in the past. So, that lack of organizational ability in the PF and the government is making the situation much worse. Because of that, we are going to have shortage of electricity impacting on production abilities in the country. It is more than load shedding, it is the incompetence of this government to run the economy.”
Milupi said the continued load shedding had also crippled the economy.
“It is going to have a major impact on the greater economy. Industries are going to continue to under-perform. Big industries, like mines and other productive companies, we are going to see under-performance of the medium-scale industries and from the small-scale industries, and self-employed individuals, who rely on electricity to be able carry out their business, like fabricating door frames in our townships and so on. We are going to see an adverse impact on those servicing industries that require electricity like barbershops and the like. Yes, we have looked at the dam levels; we continue monitoring the dam now they are much lower than there are supposed to be normally,” Milupi said.
And Milupi urged government to concentrate more on addressing Zesco’s incompetence than on scrapping the BSA, which lapses in two weeks’ time on March 31, 2020.
He also questioned whether Zesco with the current power deficit were able to supply power to the mines effectively.
“Now, if you look at that instead of dealing with what can we do to get Zesco back up, where is the focus of debate? Copperbelt Energy only distributes 20 per cent of the electricity that is generated and most of that 80 per cent of the total revenue Copperbelt Energy receives is paid into Zesco. So, what they are trying (to do) is that, ‘no, no, the 30 per cent that they make because they are running sufficiently, let us get that as well,’ without considering how are you going to give power to the mines do you have assets on the Copperbelt? You don’t have assets! What are the contractual obligations of the mining companies, the quality of supply, the minimum supply limit? Are you going to be able to undertake these things? With what assets anywhere, you don’t have land, you don’t have transformers, you don’t have anything over there,” wondered Milupi.
“But something just enters someone’s mind that, ‘no, no that company seems to be running well,’ so we have failed to run our things. It is upside down! People should ask themselves why this company that is getting so little money, most of it is paid into the Bulk Supply Agreement, why is it running efficiently? Why is this one (Zesco) that has operations around the country, why is not running efficiently and how do we correct it? But we have wrong debates through this country! Caderism! It is a Constitution of where they say everything now falls under their party is what is leading this country downwards.”