By Antonio Mwanza
For 23 years, the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) has been reaping off Zambians; buying electricity at ridiculously low rates, and selling it to the mines at extremely exorbitant rates.
For 23 years, an ordinary widow in Kalingalinga has been paying more in electricity tariffs compared to CEC, a corporation, which has been racking millions of dollars in profits, buying cheap power at the expense of poor Zambians.
This very unpatriotic arrangement that was signed between ZESCO and CEC in 1997 has denied ZESCO the opportunity to raise the necessary resources to expand its generation, distribution, and transmission capacity as the mines which CEC supplies are actually the largest consumers of power.
Yesterday Government issued a Statutory Instrument declaring all transmission and distribution lines operated by the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) as common carriers following the expiration of the Power Supply Agreement between ZESCO and CEC which expired last night.
This means that other players in the electricity market can now use these lines for commercial purposes on AGREED terms and conditions.
It is important to note that the Government has NOT grabbed the infrastructure from CEC and no one can use this infrastructure without AGREED terms with the parties.
The government must be commended for ending this slave arrangement by refusing to allow CEC to continue exploiting our people and denying ZESCO the much-needed resources for expansion works.
It is the duty of the Government to protect its people from exploitation and Government is on firm ground to compel everyone, including large corporations like CEC to be paying cost-reflective tariffs in order to help ZESCO raise enough resources to increase and expand its generation, distribution, and transmission capacity in order to afford all Zambians access to affordable electricity.
Until a win-win arrangement is made, the Government will not allow a few corporate individuals no matter who they are to exploit the masses.
The Author is Patriotic Front Deputy Media Director.