REACTION TO UPND LEADER HAKAINDE HICHILEMA’S “ZESCO CONTINUES TO DOOM ZAMBIA’S ECONOMY – MORE DARK DAYS!” STATEMENT – ISSUED BY SUNDAY CHANDA, VICE CHAIRPERSON FOR PF MEDIA AND PUBLICITY COMMITTEE
LUSAKA, APRIL 06, 2015 — We note that UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema in his statement about ZESCO captioned as “ZESCO CONTINUES TO DOOM ZAMBIA’S ECONOMY – MORE DARK DAYS!” acknowledges the main reason to the challenges the power utility company would grapple with, which is reduced water levels due to erratic rain season. As Mr. Hichilema knows too well, no Government has monopoly over climatic and weather conditions considering that Zambia has historically been dependent on hydro-electric power and not on other sources of energy such as nuclear, thermal, coal, among others. Unless Mr. Hichilema seeks to project himself as a Rain-maker who can raise the water levels at the Itezhi-Tezhi reservoir and Kariba Dam, the challenges owing to erratic climatic and weather patterns are part of the reasons why PF in Government is investing into expansion of existing hydro-power infrastructure but also going further to diversify to other energy sources such as Solar.
While Mr. Hichilema elects to politic over these matters which the UPND manifesto remains inadequate to address, the PF in Government is working towards addressing energy challenges both in the intermediate and long-term. To this effect, ZESCO has announced to the nation it its “ZESCO Customer News – Issue 2”, released on 2nd April 2015, and which Mr. Hichilema would be wiser to read, that it has embarked on a number of projects to mitigate the power deficits that have been the main cause for power interruptions. One of the many projects is Itezhi-Tezhi, the 120 MW hydropower project worth approximately USD $245 million and scheduled for completion by 31st October 2015. This project is owned by ZESCO and Tata of India. ZESCO owns 50% and similarly, Tata owns 50%. Apart from the anticipated increase in the supply of quality and reliable power, and its significance in mitigating the power deficit in Zambia, the project will also provide a catalyst for economic empowerment and growth in the Agriculture, tourism and commercial sectors of the nation.
We wish the nation to know that the PF in Government is already working to improve operational efficiencies at the power utility company as can be evidenced by the recent changes at the strategic levels of the corporation. PF in Government has time and again observed that Zambia does not have major problems with generation of power per se but with transmission and distribution due to aging equipment and infrastructure in general. Indeed some of the strategic international trips His Excellency President Edgar Lungu has embarked on are aimed at attracting the much desired investment in the energy sector, which Mr. Hichilema and his colleague Ms. Edith Nawakwi have been criticizing. The attraction of such investments at both Government to Government and PPPs remains critical in transforming the country’s energy sector to meet present and future demands.
We also note that while Mr. Hichilema proffers some solutions from his UPND manifesto in addressing these challenges, PF in Government is addressing over and beyond his four solutions for the ZESCO. Mr. Hichilema would be wiser to know that the PF in Government is not only improving the existing capacity of hydro-electric power generation, it is also working towards diversification of the sources of power, to include Solar as evidenced by the soon-to-be launched Solar Milling Plants, as a Presidential initiative across all the ten (10) provinces of Zambia. It is common knowledge that these will further reduce demand on the singular source of power which is hydro.
While Mr. Hichilema opts to trade in falsehoods that the value of the Eurobond injection into ZESCO has not been seen, he would be wiser to know that ZESCO has completed five projects financed by part of the Eurobond received from Government in 2012. The five projects completed are the 33KV overhead line from Chongwe to Avondale, which was commissioned recently. The 33KV overhead line will cushion load-shedding in Lusaka’s Roma, Olympia, Garden, Matero, Chelston, Avondale, Ibex Hill, and Kaunda Square stage 1 and 2. Other projects are the Katuba sub-station in Chibombo, the Switching Gear Station at Heroes Stadium in Lusaka, Ngwerere Sub-station in Lusaka, and the installation of two transformers at Matero sub-station. The newly-constructed Chongwe sub-station will cater for Rufunsa, some parts of Eastern Province and some of the new economic developments in Chongwe. This information is in the public domain, the same public Mr. Hichilema seeks to alarm and misinform.
It therefore would not surprise Zambians if at all Mr. Hichilema is looking for a window to privatize ZESCO like he did in the past with other Government parastatals. He is not different from Ms. Nawakwi who proposes the privatization of TAZARA. Zambians must know that these are privatization addicts who seriously need rehabilitation.
Issued by: Sunday Chanda (Mr) –
Vice Chairperson: PF Media and Publicity Committee