The tariffs that ZESCO proposes to revise on Labour Day are outrageous, unthinkable and an insult to the labour movement in Zambia, says Green Party President Peter Sinkamba.
Reacting to a ZESCO advert which appeared in the Zambia Daily Mail yesterday on Friday, 22 March, 2019, Mr. Sinkamba said it is a pity that the Zambians have been taken for a ride by parastatals like ZESCO who have capitalized on the docility of the general populace to make ‘hay while the sunshines’.
“You see, the generals populace sacrificed at great cost to recapitalize ZESCO through the Eurobond loan in 2012 running in hundreds of millions. We were promised that once the recapitalization of ZESCO is complete, then power would be cheaply available to the Nation. That was a plausible sacrifice the Zambians populace made.
“Now, seven years down the line, ZESCO comes with weird excuses to justify the more than 300 per cent increase. According to the advert, the ZESCO Managing Director says the cost of power from new generation infrastructure is much higher than the cost of generation from old depreciated power plants. This statement is an insult to the intelligence of Zambians. If old depreciated power plants are producing cheaper power than the new power plants, then that is admission of incompetence deserving immediate dismissal of management and board of ZESCO.
“This is clear admission that the new equipment and infrastructure procured from the Eurobond and Chinese loans is sub-standard, hence the higher generation costs. Under normal circumstances such incompetence deserves instant dismissal of all management and board of officials involved. Under normal circumstances, new equipment must be more efficient and cheaper to run.
“What makes it as a worst insult ever to the labour movement is that ZESCO has proposed to revise the tariffs on Labour Day. This is an unthinkable insult to the workers. Where are the workers going to get the money from to afford the 300 per cent increase when Government has approved a paltry 5 per cent salary increase and those in private sector such as miners are facing redundancies and other forms of lay-offs?
“To add salt to an injury, ZESCO is mocking the workers by introducing a so-called bulk distribution tariff which is lower than the average residential tariff. The implication of this measure is that workers will start subsiding businesses and industries. This is the proverbial adage where the rich will be given more, and for the poor, even the little they have will be taken away to give the rich. This is so appalling, so nauseating,” Mr. Sinkamba said.
He has called upon President Edgar Lungu to intervene and stop the ZESCO insults to the Zambian people.
“I think the Zambians deserve better than this,” he said.
Mr. Sinkamba said the excuse by ZESCO that connection fees have not been changed since 2005 is utter rubbish. He said the cost-reflective tariffs system was introduced by ZESCO almost three years ago. He said pricing principles require that networks develop cost reflective pricing, based on calculating the long-run marginal costs of supply. At its simplest, this is the cost of supplying the next unit of energy if the network were to be augmented or capacity is increased. The system addresses the supply network holistically, and that was done three or four years ago.
“How on earth do you increase connection fees from K769 to K3,126? That is lack of sensitivity of the part of ZESCO board and management. Where do you expect workers and unemployed people to get such colossal money? For those on minimum wage, it means sacrificing entire salary for the month to connect to ZESCO only?
“What are you encouraging? You are encouraging corruption in workplaces, theft and burglary, deforestation, illegal tapping of power, and what not. This is total madness. And to make matter worse, the ZESCO Managing Director says the company is doing all this in the quest to achieve Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty by half. First of all, at a level of Managing Director, Mr. Mundende is expected to know that MDGs agenda ended four years ago in 2015. This means the man is lost. Now, we are three years into the Sustainable Development Goals agenda. No wonder what he is doing at ZESCO is clearly not sustainable. The man is totally lost. He doesn’t deserve to be where he is,” Mr. Sinkamba said.