Centre for Development of People (Cedep) and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) have attributed to the country’s perennial energy shortages which were hampering economic growth to poor leadership and faulted the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Of late the rolling power cuts are fraying tempers amongst citizens as the beleaguered power utility, Escom, is unable to meet electricity demand and introduced a tortuous schedule of rolling blackouts known as “load shedding”.
People now check electricity reports that read like weather forecasts.
CHRR and Cedep in a statement emailed to Nyasa Times noted that shortage of energy does not only cause enormous inconvenience, it is a serious impediment to economic growth as numerous suffering but voiceless Malawians have lost business and are now leaving in a dark nation with no hope for improvement.
“It is particularly disconcerting to note that most of the challenges the country is going through are emanating from leadership naivety, lack of patriotism, compromised integrity as well as glorification of political expediency at the cost of nation-good on the part of the DPP-led government,” reads the statement co-signed by CHRR executive director Timothy Mtambo and his Cedep counterpart Gift Trapence.
“It must be emphasised that the persistent electricity shortages have a direct bearing on the economy. The manufacturing sector that contributes a greater percentage to the GDP of our ailing economy makes a lot of losses due to these blackouts. Malawians operating small-scale businesses that depend on electricity availability like barbershops, video show rooms and salons also lose out. Patients in hospitals are dying due to electricity blackouts,” noted the two groups.
CHRR and Cedep said by failing to solve the electricity crisis, the DPP-led government is failing in its duty of protecting, promoting and fulfilling the rights of citizens.
The two organisations said the electricity woes is a human rights issues.
“Different human rights of Malawians have been violated ranging from the right to health, right to economic activity, right to education and consequently the right to life. The visionary and dynamic leadership which the ruling DPP promised during the campaign period in its manifesto in dealing with issues of national importance like electricity supply is not there. As usual, Malawians have been taken for a ride.
This is happening despite the fact that electricity tariffs are way too high for most ordinary Malawians,” reads the statement.
It noted there seems to be no clear direction as far as finding lasting solutions to persistent electricity problems is concerned.
On the recent visit by President Peter Mutharika to the offices of Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) – the supplier of electricity – in Blantyre, the rights campaigners wondered why it should take the whole Head of State to attend the Board meeting of ESCOM to solve the country’s electricity crisis.
“Ironically, since his visit the situation has worsened,” they pointed out.
“Worse still, explanations from ESCOM and Electricity Generation Company (EGENCO) officials are hardly inspiring to Malawians who are expecting concrete answers and alternative solutions that will take the country out of this nightmarish age of darkness,” the statement adds.
CHRR and Cedep pointed out that Malawians were promised that unbundling of ESCOM would improve the energy situation in the country but the coming in of EGENCO so far has just added more woes.
“One of the questions we have is, why wasting resources by introducing a new company which is unable to improve the situation? Another question is who is the problem between ESCOM and EGENCO, the supplier and generator respectively? The two companies owe the nation clear and convincing explanations other than mere releases of load shedding schedules.
“Is it that ESCOM is failing to distribute and supply or EGENCO is failing to generate? The question baffling Malawians is that why is it that the situation is worsening after unbundling instead of the opposite. Further what we fail to understand is that despite having a lot of natural resources, which can support the generation of electricity, Malawians continue to endure long hours and days without electricity in their homes and places of work or business,” the two organisations said.
They stated that ESCOM and EGENCO, as statutory corporations that have failed to perform their duties of service delivery to Malawians because of, among other reasons, constant political interference.
The companies, which are supposed to save Malawians, have become nothing but cash cows for the party in power. The recent blue night saga is a typical example as to how the ruling party is abusing hard-earned public resources from public institutions. These are serious indicators of unpatriotic and merciless leadership,” reads the statement.
The rights campaigners are now urging the “ suffering Malawians” to rise up and demand electricity, good governance and development from government, which is their constitutional right.
“Malawians must refuse to be target of cheap government propaganda that the country is moving in the right direction when the country is in total darkness and it is clear that the leadership is clueless in terms of providing lasting solutions.
“Malawians must realize that a better Malawi is only possible if they come together and look beyond pettiness such as political affiliation, tribe, region and religion, and collectively stand up and demand fulfillment of the human rights and good governance in the country,” reads the statement.
They reminded Malawians that the DPP government is “taking advantage” of the country’s culture of silence.
“We need to be pro-active as Malawians. This culture of silence and lack of action is what is contributing to impunity by the DPP led government as evidenced in their failure to tackle electricity crisis and so many social and economic challenges facing the country. As Malawians, let us not just talk over issues on social media. Let us learn to act. This is our country and our destiny is in our hands. Time has come for Malawians to rise up to defend and guard the principles of good governance and democracy and define our destiny,” it said.
CHRR and Cedep said they are in strong support of concerned citizens and civil society calling for national demonstrations to demand their constitutional rights.
They demand the immediate de-politicization of utility companies so that they can ably carry out their duties.
“Statutory bodies such as ESCOM, EGENCO and others should not be taken as gravy trains to fund the activities of the ruling party. We believe that, if depoliticized, these institutions can rise up to the challenges facing them.”
The organisations said solutions to electricity woes are within reach.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :