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Too much noise, confusion in power imports – Mutati

FELIX Mutati feels there is too much noise-making around the importation of electricity from South Africa’s ESKOM.
Mutati is a former finance minister.

To cushion a debilitating power deficit of about 690 megawatts, Zambia is currently importing 300 megawatts of electricity from Electricity Supply Commission (ESKOM) at US $27 million.

Power load-shedding in Zambia persists, with consumers enduring a daily absence of electricity for between 12 and 15 hours.

Mutati, in an interview with journalists at Taj Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka on Tuesday evening, said the importation of power was not a policy issue but merely a transactional one.

“The first call is the manner in which we are handling the importation of power. It’s an operational matter that should be handled at Zesco level. This is not the first time we have imported or exported power. But what we have seen [now] is too much noise in this importation of power, creating so much confusion,” Mutati said.

“[There are] too many experts giving their opinion on what should be done. So, my advice is that let’s minimise the noises in this matter [of electricity importation]. It’s eroding the credibility of the country for a small import where everybody is involved and they are talking about it.”

He stressed that power importation ought to be treated as a routine matter.

“So, let’s hold Zesco accountable on this matter,” he noted.

“For me, Zesco must continue to be held accountable to ensure that they deal with the aspect of importing, in terms of timings, in terms of the arrangement of load-shedding. It is not the responsibility of government to answer those questions. The responsibility of government is to deal with the policy aspect.”

Mutati further pointed out the need to begin the exercise of cleaning up the balance sheet of Zesco, including the tariff adjustment.

“But don’t adjust [upwards] the tariff in order to pass on the cost to the consumer. Deal with your running cost and making sure that only that cost that is unavoidable is passed on to the consumer,” advised Mutati.

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