Responding to my entry last week on how to lose an election, a reader, Lassy Pinto, reminded me of something very critical.
He said that fundamental to the issue of the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) raising tariffs, in order to buy fuel for generators, is the question: Why are we STILL paying for the hike when we DON’T have power?
The story that the government, Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera), Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) and Escom sold us, as they were busy procuring the generators, was that they would be a magic wand they would wave to stop blackouts in the short term.
In the long term, so they have been telling us, independent power producers (IPPs), coupled with the development of new power generating plants such as Kam’mwamba, would come to the party after which we would live happily thereafter with no blackouts.
As we all know, nothing tangible is happening on the ground and the problem of blackouts is getting worse.
Sadly, Malawians are now digging deeper into their pockets, paying 25 percent on electricity tariffs to fund the fuel guzzling generators, to get more blackouts as Pinto is saying.
If this is not an example of utter incompetence and taking Malawians for granted, then nothing else will ever be.
The experts spoke that no country has ever developed using generators and how the consumer would be punished by saddling him with the responsibility of paying for the generators.
The government, Mera, Egenco plus their cousins, Escom did not listen.
Anywhere in the world, a company that raises the price for its products and services by more than ten percent at once is simply inviting trouble for itself because it will be shunned and consumers will look for cheaper alternatives.
Here we are, groaning under the weight of the new tariffs and Malawians did not complain because they do not have any power alternative apart from that brought into their homes by Escom.
This gives Egenco and Escom a leeway to do whatever they want with Malawians.
It’s Easter time when families come together for the four-day breather over the weekend
But courtesy of Escom and their cousins, Egenco, which has taken a full page advert on the matter, the families will spend the break in blackouts as that is the time the two organizations have chosen to repair or replace their rotten machines.
As for the residents of Blantyre, the Easter misery will be doubled as the shutdown of Egenco machines will also affect Blantyre Water Board intake at Walkers Ferry, meaning there will also be dry taps in homes.
Our political leaders in government want us to believe that we are making progress and something, a sort of revolution, is happening.
This is a pure lie and the evidence is hitting us straight in the face.
A government that is so incompetent that it fails to give its people even the basic needs such as constant electricity and flow of potable clean water into their homes, cannot claim that it is changing this place.
It is a big blue lie, I repeat, and a recipe for losing elections. There is nothing complicated about electricity and water but we, as a country, are struggling to get them into people’s homes all time.
Can we then think we could get other complicated plans and programmes that can take this country out of poverty and improve our standing on poverty indices in the world?
But, as I said last week, we, Malawians, are a meek lot that we trudge on with this yoke on our shoulders.
We simply groan under the weight of hopelessness we see everywhere, even when they want us to pay for it.
The organisations that claim to earn their living through speaking on behalf of consumers such as Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) closed their mouths long time ago and are concentrating on the peripherals that do not mean a thing to Malawians.
One would think that, we have the opposition parties that should have been siding with Malawians by speaking on their behalf on these matters.
One would think that, after speaking, they would come out with their own comprehensive energy plans for their electoral manifestos on how to solve the electricity and water woes, once and for all.
But they cannot because they are busy and they are hoping against hope that Malawians can still give them power to continue the incompetence of those in power now.
What is the matter, for example, that is raging in courts at the moment on Malawi Congress Party (MCP) leaders who are squabbling over petty issues about who should be in a meeting and who should not? Why not do a convention that can usher in a leadership with mandate to push things?
As for People Party (PP), it is an epitome of chaos that can probably only end with its leader Joyce Banda coming back from the self imposed exile abroad.
UDF is a shadow of its former self and its supporters are in the dark where its leader Atupele Muluzi stands as regards next year’s elections.
I cannot waste newspaper space talking of other parties apart from Democratic Progressive Party, MCP, PP and UDF because they do not mean anything to anybody to expect sense from them.
Simply put, this government gets away with murder and there is nobody to take it to task. Every other day, it does things that can make it lose elections if the citizenly and opposition were wide awake.
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