A Governance activist has bemoaned that the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) failed to heed to the public’s plea of not increasing the electricity tariff at the public consultations meeting that were held before the decision was made.
McDonald Chipenzi has since called on government to ensure that they should listen and take into consideration the views of citizens when hold public consultations in future and not these consultations should not be taken lightly.
“The public consultations by ZESCO were a good foundation but it is unfortunate that they only did so for formality’s sake and not because they had intentions of actually listening to what the Zambian people actually had to say”, he said.
However AGG has called on Government to consider extending the electricity tariff hike to mining companies as well as the exported Electricity.
Non-Governmental Organizations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) Board Chairperson Sara H. Longwe has also noted with sadness like many other stakeholders the decision by the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) to approve the 75 per cent electricity tariff hike for retail.
She said it is hypocrisy of the worst form for the ERB to conduct public hearings when they already had a pre-determined position and it is now clear from the submissions as confirmed by the ERB Board Chairperson that, Zambians were opposed to the tariff increment as proposed.
THE NGOCC Board Chairperson further noted that the proposed increased tariffs, especially for domestic users will have the potential to further accelerate and exacerbate the already high cost of living thus increasing poverty levels among the masses that live below the poverty datum line estimated at 60.5% (World Bank 2010).
Ms. Longwe added that the electricity tariff increment will increase the proportion of people in Zambian using unsustainable forms of energy, confirming that the high tariffs will worsen the situation by pushing more households to use cheaper and unsustainable sources of energy such as charcoal and firewood, leading to increased deforestation rate across the country and the increment will further increase Zambia’s vulnerability to climate change.
And the NGOCC Board Chairperson said without doubt the increased tariffs will adversely affect more women and children and the failure to make progress to achieving environmental sustainability as envisaged by the increased tariffs will adversely affect women in Zambia potentially more than men.
She explained that her analysis is based on the fact that women are the ones responsible for finding cooking solutions in their homes, thus the increased tariffs will add more pressure on women to unsustainable sources of energy thus drastically reducing their quality of life.
“With the increased cost of production, the prices of commodities, including basic household commodities, will go up despite the fact that disposable incomes for most households have remained largely low. The increased cost of production will be passed on to the consumers. With an already high living standards in Zambia, this will make the poverty situation in the country even worse – especially for the poor of the poorest, who are women with poverty among women headed households estimated at 62.1% (Living Conditions Monitoring Survey2010)”
“It is sad that the so called pro-poor Government of the Patriotic Front (PF) could allow this increment which will rob Zambians of money from their pockets. It is saddening that the Government is fast veering away from its original pro poor policies carefully stipulated in its party manifesto” Ms. Longw
And Alliance for Good Governance President Joseph Chileshe said ZESCO’s 75 per cent electricity tariff hike which has been approved by the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) is seemingly not going to affect mining companies and exported electricity.
“Mining companies and the exported electricity is where most electricity is used in our country and if these two are not going to be included in the tariff increment it will be sad for the average Zambian because we will be bearing their costs”, Mr Chileshe said.
Chileshe pointed out that he expects ZESCO to adhere to the order that was given to them by ERB concerning the staff tariff as contained in the press statement that was issued on the 10th of May 2017 by ERB.
In the statement issued by ERB the regulatory body instructed ZESCO to revise the staff tariff so that it is not passed on to customers by way of a tariff increase as the ERB has noted that the continued use of the staff tariff implies that the rest of the consumers are subsidizing the ZESCO staff tariff.