UPND’s demand for transparency in “the so-called Zesco reforms” is legimate.
Zesco is not just any state enterprise like ZNBC or ZAFFICO. Poor or wrong handling of Zesco directly and indirectly affects all.
The government statement issued through the Secretary to Cabinet Roland Msiska on the government’s intention to carry out reforms in Zesco doesn’t give us the level of transparency and accountability needed on this very important public matter. The government’s statement on its intention to reform Zesco, as UPND correctly observes, is vague. Details are needed. Zesco can’t be reformed in the way they ‘reformed’ ZNBC or are trying to reform ZAFFICO. More transparency and accountability are needed; more details are needed.
“As UPND and as concerned citizens, we are highly suspicious of the kind of reforms they intend to carry out in our strategic power utility, Zesco. We demand for details of the so-called Zesco reforms. This is especially that we are aware of the high indebtedness of Zesco due to the upgrades that have been done by the Chinese firm, Sino Hydro. We hope it will not be another scandal like was the case with ZNBC where we ended up losing the national broadcaster to the Chinese firm after we failed to pay the debt,” says Kaisala.
The concerns being raised by UPND are understandable given the crooked deals which this government has gotten into. But it’s not only with the Chinese.
For a long time this government was denying the Chinese takeover of ZNBC. They were scared of telling their people the truth. Why? Our simple and only explanation is because they knew what they were doing or had done was wrong.
It’s not a secret that Zesco is not in a good financial state. Zesco owes many lenders a lot of money. What deal is the government going to enter into with Zesco’s lenders?
It’s not asking too much for the Zambian people to know what form these reforms of Zesco are going to take.
All what the government has told us is: “This serves to inform the general public and all stakeholders at large that the Government of the Republic of Zambia has commenced implementing measures aimed at transforming Zesco into a more effective and efficient public utility company. As you may be aware, Zesco is a wholly state-owned enterprise and will remain so into the foreseeable future.
The gist of the matter is that, in the recent past, Zesco has been experiencing serious operational challenges. Alive to these challenges, Cabinet, in 2017 commissioned a diagnostic study which accordingly made recommendations to ameliorate those challenges. Arising from the study report, Cabinet, at its meeting held on 16th July, 2018, approved the recommendations and directed that an implementation team be constituted to implement the accepted recommendations whose overall objective is to turn Zesco into a viable company that efficiently generates, transmits and distributes electricity to both domestic and industrial clients as well as the export market.”
Msiska added that in accordance with the Cabinet directive, the implementation team, under his leadership, has since begun its work “in earnest and will regularly update the public and other stakeholders on progress made.”
This is a government that has lost public trust because of its dishonesty and corruption. And when you are dealing with people who don’t trust you, more information and a very high level of transparency are needed.
This is a government whose leadership has lost public respect.
And if those in government want to be trusted and respected by the Zambian people, the great thing is to respect themselves. Only by that, only by self-respect will they compel Zambian people to trust and respect them.
And as for the Zambian people, they are slowly learning to distrust politicians, but grovel to none.
Even where there’s trust there must still be verification.
And when we look at a politician, we should see a person – not a rank, not a title.
We know that it is very difficult to stop this government from doing the wrong it wants to do. They listen to no one other than their own inner demons.
But the probability that we may fail to stop them
ought not to deter us from trying to stop their wrong and corrupt deals.
We know that immediately you question their wrong and corrupt deals you are labelled unpatriotic. There’s so much empty talk about patriotism.
What they are calling patriotism is actually parrot-ism of what the one who is president of the Republic is saying or wants to be said. They view docility, conformist as patriotism.
They want to be praised, cheered on even when they are doing things that are harmful to this country and its people. These are politicians who want nothing but praise and to be given credit even for things they have not done. But any politician who takes credit for things he has not done – for the rain – must not be surprised if his or her opponents blame him or her for the drought.
These are people who seem to be permanently wedded to lies, crookedness. They are all seeking money and praise. They want to be worshipped. But as Pope Francis has warned, “The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly human goal.”
It’s time we all started to see what is in front of our noses. But to see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.