By: Anthony Bwalya – UPND Member
The investment vehicle for the construction of the 600MW – 750MW Kafue Lower Hydro Power Project was secured by the MMD government, with the project originally to have been concluded in 2015. The agreement was inked in 2010 by the then Minister of Finance Situmbeko Musokotwane, with construction commencement having been planned for April 2011.
The project was to be funded through an investment vehicle between Zambia, together with China Africa Development Fund and Sino-hydro; for $1.5bn.
The first thing the Patriotic Front (PF) did on assuming public office in 2011 was to irregularly disrupt the project for no credible reasons. The project lay dormant for almost another 5 years, only to emerge as a $2bn project – the same project but costing another $500m
Had the PF not fiddled with this project back in 2011, the Zambian economy would have been registering consistent GDP growth averaging anything between 4% – 5% between 2015 to date. But because of the electricity crisis, we had in 2015 – 2016, and now 2019 – 2020, thanks to the partisan economic sabotage perpetrated by the PF regime.
The PF owe Zambians a couple of answers: Why was the Kafue Lower Hydro project canceled in 2011? Also, why was there a $500m spike in the cost of the same project under the PF as opposed to the initial $1.5bn under the MMD?
And Zambians must remember, that if we do not conclude this project by the summer of 2020, we will be trouble again.
Now we know, that because of the excessive public debt which is bearing heavily on the government’s ability to service debt as it falls due, the Chinese are no longer prepared to write blank cheques for the PF to abuse. The Chinese now know that it is no longer in their national interest to maintain a toxic relationship with the PF administration firmly anchored on corruption. It means the Chinese government will never be able to recover their money.
China has also realized that it has been a friend of the Zambian people for over 50 years, and China will not destroy Zambia for the sake of the PF. It is in the best interest of China and the Chinese people, as much as it is beneficial to Zambia and her citizens, for the Chinese government to whip the PF back in line.