(There is commotion in the courtroom as Judge Mbadwa enters in semi-darkness due to power outage)
Court Clerk: All rise! His Lordship Mbadwa’s court is now in session!
Judge Mbadwa: Why the commotion? Did I say that I will fail to read my judgement on Escom because of the corporation’s failure to supply power to this court? The alternative light from kerosene lamps will be enough for me to do the work I am mandated to do.
I am ready with my judgement on the citizens’ application to change the name of the organisation 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 fails 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 Amayi than the present one? I am afraid I will end up using unpalatable language against court etiquette. I should stop here my Lord because I am angry.
Judge Mbadwa: I have noted that you are emotional Mr Kapita and rightly so because this is an emotive issue, but we deal with facts 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 Corporation 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. With that name, it would make sense for Escom to say they cannot supply power because of low levels of water in the Shire River or to say their turbines have been over flooded with trash due to heavy rains upstream.
As Hescom, so argue the citizens, the company would be operating only in seasons when there is neither too much water nor 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, just 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 unscientific explanations on water levels of the Shire and patterns of rainfall.
We do not care how Escom will supply us power; all we want is that it should fulfil its mandate. Nobody expects a company whose vision is to become “a preferred world class provider of reliable and sustainable electricity to the nation and in the region” to usurp the job of a weatherman at Chileka.
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 be changed 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.