(There is commotion in the courtroom as judge Mbadwa enters the courtroom that is in semi-darkness due to power outage. The judge has been asked to read again his determination on whether Escom is right to blame everything on the weatherman)
Court Clerk: All rise! His Lordship Mbadwa’s court is now in session?
Judge Mbadwa: Today I was expected to rule whether government should be allowed to spend about K300 million of taxpayers’ money for public relations stunts that paint this country as if it is paradise. I was prepared to read my judgement on the futility of that exercise by government, but the court was inundated with requests to read the judgment again in the presence of everybody.
By unconventional court this one, the citizens’ wishes have been granted.
I am now ready to read again my judgement on the citizens’ application to change the name of the Escom to reflect its new mode of operation based on seasons of the year. But I want to ask Jonah Kapita of the Association of Disgruntled Consumers, who also brought his application late to this court, to stand. This is a fair court Mr Kapita and I will allow you to read a summary of your petition which will be addressed later on. Can you survive the torture of reading in semi-darkness?
Jonah Kapita: My Lord, I have no choice but to subject myself to optical torture perpetrated by the organisation which likes to give excuses for its inefficiency. In short, my Lord what we want as Disgruntled Consumers is that this organisation should be disbanded for its propensity to peddle lies whenever it is failing in its duties. Only a year ago power outages were history; what has changed now? Are we suggesting that the utility organisation feared more Boma la Amai than this one and that is the reason they performed then? I am afraid I will end up using unpalatable language against court etiquette. I should stop here My Lord because I am angry.
Mbadwa: I have noted that you are emotional Mr Kapita and rightly so because this is an emotive issue but we deal with facts of in this court. I will, therefore, go straight to substantive issues as addressed in the petition of the citizens.
The citizens argued that Escom should change its name to Hescom to mean Hydro-Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi. The citizens argue that the name will embrace all excuses Escom spew when it is failing to supply power to the people of Malawi. It would make sense for Escom to say they can’t supply power because they are low levels of water in the Shire or to say their turbines have been over flooded with trash due to heavy rainfall upstream.
As Hescom, so argue the citizens, the company would be operating only in seasons where there is no too much water or too little water to generate electricity. The people want the company to only open a season of generating electricity where supply will be uninterrupted and close power generation, like tobacco market seasons, to usher in a period of blackouts instead of having half-a year of blackouts spread out in a year.
My judgement; I agree with the citizens’ observation that Escom’s inexact excuses are not making any sense because their job is to supply power to the Malawi population not contingent on the availability of water or its absence. As a limited liability company established under the Companies Act of 1984, Escom’s mandate is to generate, transmit and distribute electricity in the country. Nowhere in the Act does it state that Escom will become a fair-weather company that will also be giving people its unscientific explanations on water levels of the Shire and pattern of rainfall.
We do not care how Escom will supply us power; all we want is that it should fulfill its mandate. Is this how a company whose vision is to become “a preferred world class provider of reliable and sustainable electricity to the nation and in the region” behaves?
This company has a history of blaming its inadequacies on everything from monkeys to the weather but this must stop. I hereby grant the citizens their wish that the name of the institution changes to Hescom and its Act repealed to reflect its present status. The body has three weeks to prove it can retain the Escom status if it manages to supply power all day everyday without rationing. Case closed. n