PRESS STATEMENT BY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN PARLIAMENT HONOURABLE DR. KONDWANI NANKHUMWA, MP ON THE CURRENT POWER CRISIS IN MALAWI
TUESDAY, 23RD AUGUST, 2022
On Monday, August 22, 2022, President Lazarus Chakwera announced through his official social media pages that he was working from his office and that he had deployed his Minister of Energy to hold meetings with the Heads of ESCOM and EGENCO to get to the bottom of the cause of the system shutdown that resulted in a nationwide blackout over the weekend.
President Chakwera’s statement was announced as big news, which was surprising because rather than being a norm that the President should be in his office every working day, it was announced as an exception. The statement, therefore, made the following assumptions:
1. That the President has not been going to the office and that it was only yesterday that he decided to work from his office;
2. That what jolted the President into action was only the nation-wide blackout, which the country experienced over the weekend, and that the power crisis the country has been experiencing over the past months did not warrant any action such as the deployment of the Minister of Energy;
3. That the Minister of Energy had to wait for a directive from the President to move into action and that he could not see the crisis himself; and
4. That President Chakwera is hugely detached from reality, and does not know the challenges that Malawians face on a daily basis;
President Chakwera should care to know that the problem of intermittent power supply reached a crisis level more than two months ago and that now it is becoming a national catastrophe.
ESCOM has been dutifully sharing load-shedding schedules, informing people the times when electricity supply will not be available, and the times when electricity will be available. However, these are schedules that ESCOM no longer sticks to.
Every time, ESCOM announces a 12-hour power restoration period, but this is also not always the case as electricity is restored for only one hour, then it’s off again.
Businesses that rely on electricity are on their death bed. Those rearing chickens, who need incubators, can no longer use incubators, leading to huge losses.
Welding businesses can no longer weld. Shops with perishables that need to be kept frozen have to throw their perishable stocks away due to lack of power supply. Milling businesses have practically been shut down. Mr. President, the problem is not only what you call “the system shutdown that resulted in a nation-wide blackout over the weekend.”
To imagine that the President had woken up to this fact over the weekend shows that the country is on autopilot, and that he is totally disinterested in solving its problems.
During campaign for office, President Chakwera informed Malawians that he was going to “eradicate blackouts without excuses.” Mr. President, this is your third year in office, and there is still nothing you have done to “eradicate blackouts.” You are busy blaming the previous regime. What has happened to the promises you made to Malawians?
Mr. President, the previous regime made its mistakes, but Malawians elected you to correct those mistakes. You cannot run away from your responsibility by scapegoating endlessly. What are you doing yourself?
Mr President, your idea of solving Malawi’s problems starts and ends with speeches. Your speeches are truly great – no-one can take that away from you – but Malawians don’t eat speeches. Malawians employed you to work for Malawians. Mr President, please do what Malawians elected you for.
Mr. President, it was surprising that the Minister of Energy had to wait to be deployed by you instead of just doing his job.
That did not give Malawians any confidence at all that you, Sir, and your Minister of Energy, are the crisis managers that Malawians can look up to in times of crisis like these.
The deployed Minister is also yet to give the nation any update on the solutions he has come up with to solve this power crisis once and for all. In solutions, I do not mean another great speech, but an action plan, with clear timelines for delivery.
I am well aware of the damage to power generation machines that was caused by Cyclone Anna. But it would have been comforting to see that at least those who are supposed to work on the problem are trying their best. Sadly, this is not the case.
I urge President Chakwera to prioritize the suffering of Malawians at present. Our economy is teetering, and a lot is being lost with each passing day of inaction.
Honourable Kondwani Nankhumwa, MP
LEADER OF OPPOSITION IN PARLIAMENT
23rd August, 2022