“HH and the UPND have forfeited their right to be in government. They must be removed from government in the national interest, immediately, before they cause irreparable damage to our country.” Our electricity crisis: a golden opportunity for HH and his foreign friends to reap massive profits from us, as they collapse state monopoly of electricity
By Azwell Banda,
In this day and age, any government anywhere in the world that cannot guarantee stable, constant supply and access to quality electricity for all its citizens and visitors in its country, every day, all year round, is not worthy the name “government”, it must be removed from power. Electricity is the economy of any country; it is its social and cultural life. Without it, a country is dead, literally. Electricity is national security. Electricity is state sovereignty. Electricity is a human right in this day and age. Any political party in government which cannot secure and guarantee constant, steady, affordable, quality electricity for the majority of its citizens for whatever reasons is not fit to run government.
HH and the UPND have forfeited their right to be in government. They must be removed from government in the national interest, immediately, before they cause irreparable damage to our country. One working hour lost because there is no electricity for Zambia’s roughly nine million working age citizens is 9,000,000 hours of work lost to the country, forever. Of course, this number grows when visitors and other non-Zambians of working age are added. Inability to use technology because there is no electricity exponentially compounds the figures of hours of work lost.
All ordinary poor Zambians, who are the majority of Zambians, need electricity now, not just after every six hours; they need electricity all the time! These poor ordinary Zambians, need electricity even in the villages, perhaps to be able to go to the shop or garage, to charge their cell phones so that they can keep in touch with their relatives and friends. This is why they voted for HH and his UPND choir.
In a country in which formal quality jobs are only for an insignificantly tiny lucky few, millions of poor ordinary Zambians need electricity to make their daily small money for rent, water, soap, paraffin, marches, charcoal, food, schools, medicines, second hand shoes and clothing and a cold beer or two. Millions of poor ordinary Zambians need electricity so that the small business from where they get piece work can operate, otherwise they will starve, without the small amounts of money they make every day.
Millions of ordinary Zambians in all our urban areas need electricity, especially in the morning, to bath, make some food that passes for breakfast, and prepare to take children to school. They need electricity all the time. Life is actually very expensive without electricity, for everyone! Millions of Zambians survive from many small businesses that need electricity to operate. All the small shops and businesses in all our townships and villages need electricity to operate, not just for fridges, but to also stay open till late into the evenings! They need electricity all the time, not in spurts of six hours each!
All our schools, colleges and universities need electricity, especially in our rural areas! Our children are being deprived of their badly needed education using electronic devices and the internet to both access information and to process it. Paraffin and candle light is not good for their eyes and general health, nor is it actually inspiring, in this day and age. We are disadvantaging Zambian children when electricity is not available in both homes and all learning initiations.
All Zambians, in our urban and rural areas, rich and poor, young and old, male and female, need constant access to reliable affordable electricity all the time, every day, throughout the year. Electricity is a universal ingredient in all domestic and economic activities in our times. Without it, the life lived is inferior, backward and extremely harsh. Such a life is also usually over exposed to many diseases.
There is a seemingly maddening slowness, lack of urgency, casualness, dishonest, apparent chaos and thoroughly unorganised manner with which HH and his entire UPND government and choir have approached the electricity crisis in the past 16 months. They have actually been praising and defending themselves more than practically attending to the electricity crisis!
Our mass media have done an excellent job to shine their bright lights on everything HH has done since the country was informed about first, the six hours load shedding, and almost immediately after, the 12-hour load shedding, and now the staggered six hourly but still 12-hour load shedding. Being fully aware of the immense magnitude of the devastating impact the massive load shedding would have on Zambia and all the people in it, I have carefully observed and studied the response to this disastrous crisis by our government in general and our President in particular. I am not sure which one is more traumatic between the electricity crisis and the responses of our government and HH. I am traumatised by both.
We all now know HH and the UPND are compulsive pathological liars, both when they were in opposition, and now, when they are in government. This fact is not in dispute anymore even among relatively honest, sober and rational UPND members and HH supporters alike. It is the cynical, cold, calculated exploitation of the many crises HH and the UPND government manufacture that worries me the most, now. A UPND official somewhere in Zambia has already announced that young people must use this electricity crisis as an opportunity to make money! He has suggested the selling of power banks and generators by young people as possible businesses. I let this pass, hoping their leader HH would be less crude and not so savagely insensitive and opportunistic as to announce the electricity crisis as an opportunity for UPND to make money. I was wrong.
I have sifted through most of the available mass media stories on the electricity crisis very carefully. I have desperately searched for information regarding what immediate actions HH and his UPND government are taking to reduce the immense suffering of millions of poor Zambians and mitigate the full immediate impact of the electricity crisis in Zambia. I have found absolutely none. Our past is blamed for not investing enough in electricity. The PF is blamed for the electricity crisis, including as having somehow disappeared the water in order to make money! Zimbabwe appears to have drawn more water than its allocation. The Zambezi River Authority is attacked for failing to regulate water use. Electricity exports must continue because they create jobs in Zambia. Apparently there is a leakage in the Kariba Dam, and so forth.
And then it hit me! The suggestion by a UPND official to youths to make money from this electricity crisis suddenly made UPND sense to me! HH has announced in meetings on the crisis at State House that nothing, nobody, no law should stand in the way of ensuring that Independent Power Producers (IPPs) come on line, to resolve our electricity crisis. Only the Constitution, he says, will be spared, in this maddening effort to exploit for profits the extremely lucrative opportunity to make vast amounts of money which the current version of the electricity crisis presents, to money mongers! HH now is set to raise US $4 billion abroad, for electricity production, through IPPs. Nothing best explains the seemingly chaotic, extremely casual, and full dramatic media displays of this maddening apparent moronic response to the electricity crisis: HH and his friends are poised to start to access the billions in US dollars they crave to lay their hands on, using the electricity crisis!
You see, dear fellow ash mouthed impoverished Zambians, not even the IMF will stand in the way of HH as he expands our debt by “attracting massive foreign investments” into Zambia for private profits using the electricity crisis as a perfect pretence. The mines want guaranteed cheap, affordable, constant steady access to electricity, if they must plunder our resources at the rate commiserate with their supper exploitation of our cheap labour and their gluttonous appetite for massive profits! HH must deliver this electricity, and make money too.
This electricity crisis is good for HH and his friends in government because it also creates the perfect opportunity for them to remove government dominance in the electricity sector and replace government with the “private sector”. Electricity provisioning has become a bottomless gold mine for profit mongers all over the world. Governments stand in the way of the private sector’s gargantuan appetite for turning a societal need, electricity, into a permanent source of massive profits. Note the extreme contempt money monger HH displays about all our laws that may stand in the way of IPPs – they must all be removed from our statutes, to pave way for IPPs, for massive private profits, in the electricity value chains.
And so it is that while millions of Zambians of all tribes in all our provinces who voted for HH, to, among other things, resolve our perennial electricity crises, their votes are now being used to enrich foreign money and its very few Zambian parasites, in electricity, while simultaneously destroying state electricity sovereignty! This is the most cynical abuse of state power and of poor people by politicians of the HH type: use the state and their vote to impoverish them further, as they themselves become fabulously rich!
Zambia needs a Zambian government that will protect the economic and social interests and lives of the majority of Zambians including by the state guaranteeing supply and access to reliable, affordable, quality electricity for all Zambians. The private sector cannot guarantee this, ever. Electricity in this world is a public good, it is a sovereign good. It is a human need. It is a human right.
The majority of Zambians who are poor urgently need measures to immediately lessen their suffering so that they can democratically and effectively participate in shaping medium and long term state solutions to resolve our electricity crisis. HH and his friends were elected to solve our problems, not to explain away our problems and profit personally, from them. They have failed a critical test for running government. They must be removed from power, before they damage Zambia, irreparably.
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