Free Escom, stop abuse of resources
Power outages, often blamed on poor generation capacity and receding water levels, have reached embarrassing levels, but that is not the worst part.
While it is true that industries, which are touted as the engine of economic growth, are scaling down on production whereas the delivery of crucial services such as health care has been compromised, leaving us at the mercy of man-made fate; this, too, is not the worst part.
The worst part is that these challenges are man-made and can be avoided, but the people we entrusted with power do not want to stop all this, even if they know that they have dug this ditch we have fallen into.
As far as we are concerned, the root of all these problems is not poor capacity to generate hydro-electric power on the Shire River or delays to roll out fuel-powered generators; the root of the problem is incessant abuse of resources of the parastatals that are mandated to give us power all day every day.
For a long time, ruling parties— including the Democratic Progressive Party— have been abusing resources of the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) by commandeering vehicles and other resources, thereby defeating the objective of separation of party from State activities.
So, instead of serving consumers through the provision of uninterrupted power, resources of institutions such as Escom are put to wrong use, thereby perpetuating the problem of power outages.
However, instead of showing signs of being heartily ashamed of their actions, those connected to the powers-that-be go a step further; dictating the award of contracts in well-meaning parastatals such as Escom.
Lest we forget, Escom has been embroiled in several procurement scams, the most recent being the confusion that has marred the exercise of procuring generators that would save us from these incessant blackouts. Somehow, it was discovered along the way that Escom was clinging to a task that was not backed by law; hence, a contract that was duly signed faced the prospect of being renegotiated, at the expense of paying millions, if not billions, in compensating the supplier for the embarrassment.
So, instead of basking in generator-backed light, we are still embracing the darkness that is synonymous with the Dark Ages. We can do better than this.
We are, therefore, disappointed that, instead of taking requisite action, President Peter Mutharika was busy touring Escom offices yesterday, trying to get appraised on an issue – of blackouts— he knows very well how to solve: stopping the abuse that has become synonymous with ruling parties’ clout.
Moving forward, there is need to create deliberate policies that will free Escom from the hard grip of those in power. Otherwise, we will sing of power outages till kingdom come.
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