Acommentor has faulted President Peter Mutharika for ‘wrongly’ stating that for the past 50 years previous governments did not invest in expansion of power generation.
Justifying the current incessant blackouts that range between eight and 25 hours, Mutharika when he opened the 47th Session of Parliament on Friday said the nation was suffering consequences of neglecting the energy sector for many years.
“Let us be honest to admit that we did not invest to expand our energy generation. For 50 years, we kept thinking as if Malawi would remain what it was in the1960s,” the President said.
His statement meant that previous administrations, including the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which ruled under the one-party regime of Hasting Kamuzu Banda for 31 years did little to improve the power capacity.
But a simple analysis of power upgrades on Escom website, www.escom.mw would show that past administrations have been upgrading the power stations from as early as 1966 to as late as 2014.
And a commentator has equally faulted the President on the sweeping statement, arguing that it was factually wrong.
Institute of Policy Interaction (IPI) executive director Rafiq Hajat said in an interview on Saturday the President, as a master of a ship in an ocean, must do everything within his power to gather correct facts.
He said citizens always expect their leader to be honest, and on top of things, warning that it paints a bad picture of the President, and his government, when he tells the nation something not factual.
“It would be a lie to say for the past 50 years no investment was made in the power sector. It doesn’t have to take anyone to explain that what the President meant was that the nation did not invest to expand energy generation for the past 50 years. This is not correct,” said Hajat.
He said Mutharika should have acknowledged efforts the previous administrations put to improve the power generation.
Major and noticeable upgrades, according to the website, were done in 1980, 1986 and 1992, when Kamuzu’s administration added to the grid 120MW through Nkula B Power Station.
In 1996, under Bakili Muluzi’s UDF administration, Escom, through Tedzani II Power Station, according to the website, added 50MW, and an additional 4.5MW the same year through Wovwe Power Station in Karonga.
Under the same UDF administration, an investment in power generation was made through Kapichira Power Station, which brought 128 MW to the grid.
The current installed capacity for electricity is 351MW, but of late it has fallen to 160MW, which Escom, says has led to the current power crisis.
But Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi, who is official government spokesperson, said in an interview on Saturday that what the President meant was that there has never been substantial investment in power for the past 50 years.
“We needed something to match with our growing industry, development and the population, but there was nothing,” said Dausi.
Mutharika told the National Assembly that he was aware that major reforms to improve efficiency in the energy supply chain were implemented, including the unbundling of Escom in order to separate power generation from transmission and distribution functions. n