Sometimes, we get shocked when we hear announcements that government is taking measures to correct things, which they never admitted in the first place that they were going wrong.
Just last month, we heard the Vice-President Inonge Wina saying in Parliament that government was doing everything possible to restore donor confidence. Which donor confidence was lost? As far as we have been told by this government, it was the donors who were spreading false information on social media claiming that their money had been stolen, when in fact that money was sitting in the bank.
If anything, it should be our government that should have lost confidence in the donors for lying, not the other way round. This is the reason we are asking; when was that confidence lost? What did government do exactly to lose the confidence, which Bo Inonge is trying to regain, and why didn’t she announce earlier on that ‘this action we have made has cost us donor confidence?’
We are asking those questions not because we want answers from government, but to show proof that this regime never admits when it is wrong. They are quick to attack anyone who condemns their wrong deeds, but they later on move to correct the mistake without even admitting in the first place that it was a mistake.
This is the same thing that we are hearing at Zesco. When they were increasing consumer tariffs, they said the move was meant to help make the utility viable. We recall that last September when they increased tariffs by 75 per cent, people complained that with such a biting economy and dwindling incomes, it was unfair to make them pay through the nose for electricity. However, Zesco in cahoots with the Energy Regulation Board (ERB), bullied their way into imposing the tariff increase.
Govt has never told the nation that despite charging consumers 75 per cent more for electricity, Zesco has continued to make losses. In fact, what they told us is that the tariff increase was so cost-reflective and profitable that the energy sector had now become even more attractive to investment. But today, they are announcing restructuring plans for Zesco in a bid to “make it viable”.
The statement that we saw last week released by Secretary to Cabinet Dr Roland Msiska is one of the most useless and empty announcements we have ever seen! One could sense that government was trying to disclose something, but it is scared to lay it bare. It was also a very confusing statement because it said nothing at all apart from raising speculations.
“This serves to inform the general public and stakeholders that the government of the Republic of Zambia has commenced implementing measures aimed at transforming Zesco into it more effective and efficient public utility. As you may be aware, Zesco is a wholly state-owned enterprise and will remain so into the foreseeable future.
The gist of the matter is that, in the recent past, Zesco has been experiencing serious operational challenges. Alive to these challenges, Cabinet in 2017 commissioned a diagnostic study, which accordingly made recommendations to ameliorate those challenges. Arising from the study report, Cabinet at its meeting held on July 16, 2018, approved the recommendations and directed that an implementation team be constituted to implement the accepted recommendation whose overall objective is to turn Zesco into a viable company that efficiently generates, transmits and distributes electricity to both domestic and industrial clients, as well as the export market.
In accordance with the Cabinet directive, the implementation team under the leadership of the Secretary to the Cabinet, has since began its work in earnest and will regularly update the public and other stakeholders on progress made.”
With all due respect Dr Msiska, sir, what are you talking about? What problems were identified by your team? What is the actual recommendation apart from the formation of this team? Are you trying to announce the unbundling of Zesco into three companies? If so, where is the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) that oversees Zesco? How do these reforms affect the public? What is it that the public should know beyond the formation of this team? And most importantly, what is government hiding?
Again, we are asking these questions because in the absence of answers, it is the duty of the opposition to tell the public what they think is going on. They will start raising speculation that Zesco has officially been sold! Sadly, when that happens, government will send police to arrest them for seeking answers.
By the way, this attitude by the PF where they are blaming UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema for everything that is going wrong about the governance of the country is actually sending a very negative message about the capacity of the incumbent Head of State. By blaming Mr Hichilema for everything, they are admitting that the opposition leader has so much power and influence over state institutions!
If Mr Hichilema can say today that, “Zesco has been sold,” and government considers that message to be so influential that the whole nation can rise to demonstrate against the State, then the PF must be very worried. What that means is that people ignore when President Lungu says no national assets have been sold, but they believe what Mr Hichilema says.
Those who were elected to run the affairs of this country must take responsibility of the decisions they make. They must communicate efficiently to the public that they serve. Most importantly, they must admit their wrongs before correcting them, instead of blaming someone else when things fall apart. The President of the Republic of Zambia doesn’t live in New Kasama; he lives in State House at Plot One!