Concerned citizens yesterday presented a five-point petition to the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) demanding an explanation and an end to prevailing power outages that have stalled economic activity.
Clad in black and hoisting placards with such inscriptions as Escom mwalephera [Escom, you have failed us], Escom: Merchants of darkness and A President tilankhuleni [Mr President, please address us on blackouts], the estimated 100 marchers led by activist Billy Mayaya threatened more demonstrations and vigils if the issue is not addressed.
The march started from Area 18 Roundabout to Lilongwe City Council civic offices. Initially, it appeared like a police officers’ parade as cops outnumbered the petitioners before more joined to increase the numbers.
In the five-point petition, the concerned citizens are demanding an end to blackouts; that President Peter Mutharika should address the nation on the issue; Parliament should summon chief executive officers of Escom and Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) to account for their actions and a forensic audit to be conducted at both Escom and Egenco.
Escom acting regional manager (Central) McVitty Chiphwanya received the petition on behalf of the parastatal which is headquartered in Blantyre.
Reacting to the petition, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi, who is the official government spokesperson, said the petition has been made at a time CSOs were conducted on a tour of Egenco and Escom operations to appreciate the magnitude of the impact of the low water levels.
The President and Egenco are on record as having said the power generation woes will ease by end of December when diesel-powered generators are added to the national grid.
But Mayaya yesterday dismissed the assurances, saying it was a lie that the situation will improve.
Power generation woes moved from bad to worse with a loss of 20 megawatts (MW) within a week two weeks ago, a situation that has prompted a drastic load shedding programme that will see some areas having over 24 hours of no power.
Two weeks ago, President Peter Mutharika “gate-crashed” into Escom and Egenco meeting and later hinted that power outages may only improve in a year’s time.