Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Perception is everything


Findings of research commissioned by Millennium Challenge Account (MCA-Malawi), to the effect that workers at the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) are so corrupt that they cannot be trusted to offer satisfactory service without kickbacks, have taken us by surprise.

We are surprised because, for the most part, we have been made to believe that Escom is a paragon of efficiency, accountability and high work ethic.

Then comes MCA-Malawi with findings that have left us mouth agape. To begin with, corruption is not a nice thing to be associated with; especially when an organisation is in the service of the people.


To say the truth, electricity is one of the must-have things in the modern world and, where possible, access to it has to be encouraged. More so when, in the case of Malawi, less than 13 percent of the population has access to the national hydro-electric power grid.

If, indeed, some people at Escom demand kickbacks to offer services they are employed to do, the country is in trouble because electricity powers economies. This is why industry players and individual citizens have been complaining about persistent power outages since, without electricity, the engine for economic growth, namely the private sector, suffers.

It suffers because it incurs more in fuel costs, to the extent that some players lay off staff. This just buttresses the importance of electricity to Malawi and, indeed, elsewhere.


But, then, these are just perceptions. We know that there are many good people at Escom who cannot be put in the same category as bad apples.

Other than dismissing the perceptions, Escom has a chance to clear its name by putting in place mechanisms that would ensure that bad apples are not giving it a bad name.

As we have said, these are mere perceptions and, by drawing lessons from these perceptions, Escom can serve customers better.

Let there be light, without hindrances such as unnecessary demands for money which, in short, are called corruption.

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