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What has delayed the Kalungwishi Power project?

Recently, Luapula Hydro Power project chairman Mumena Mushinge Mumena said Berkeley Energy is willing to invest US $560 million into the development of Kalungwishi Hydro power project at Kalungwishi waterfalls.

“For us we have been fighting to get this [Kalungwishi hydropower] project off the ground from 2012. From the time PF came in with president Michael Sata, we had a lot of ‘in and out of court’…we had even taken government to court which I think is not necessary,” said Mushinge. “We have an investor who is willing to pump in US $560 million. That investor is Berkeley Energy. They wrote to the previous government that they are pumping in this money. And Berkeley Energy is owned by African Development Bank and the European Investment Bank.”

And chief Mabumba expressed concern that the Kalungwishi power project has been delayed unnecessarily.

“If for 12 years one had been appealing for government assistance to help them develop the two provinces but the appeals have been falling on deaf ears, you begin to wonder that probably there is something sinister behind it. Because surely 12 years somebody is begging, he is getting clarification on certain issues so that the project can start [but] there was no positive response! You begin to wonder what could have gone wrong,” said Mabumba. “Now a delay of this kind! I would say the people of Luapula and indeed Northern Province have been sidelined in terms of development. No wonder when you come around, like where we went for that ceremony [Samu lya Moomba], you could see the difference between Luapula and Southern Province. I have gone as far as Chipata, I have seen a very big difference. There is balanced development in other provinces. And this is what would be our wish also that we should share similar development. When it comes to projects like this one, having been delayed for all these years, I would suggest that if at all there was something wrong, with the change in government – we are no longer with PF – we are not saying they didn’t do much; they did what they could but now we have a new dawn government in place with high expectations from our people. It could have been deliberately delayed. It could have been that certain people had interests of their own to serve or maybe they could have found their own investor or were not in favour of the project itself. But with the new government, with its hopes and aspirations for the people, I am sure if approached, it will make a change. I have listened very well to the new President, his thoughts, mind, he is calling for mindset change for everyone in the country. And to achieve this, we need to follow his mind as well. I am sure when approached there would be a positive result in favour of the Kalungwishi Hydro project.”

The chief’s observations are thought provoking indeed. How can a project with a ready investor fail to take off for 12 solid years? Why did the PF decide to neglect this project? Did the investor fail a due diligence test? Is it an issue of commissions or kickbacks not reaching the political hands? What would have led the PF government not approve the project, considering that the hype was about developing the Northern Circuit?

And Mabumba also complains about unbalanced development. He says Southern and Eastern provinces have balanced development. A kind of development which is not in Luapula and Northern. This is a hard slap in the faces or on the mouths of PF propagandists who projected themselves as having delivered infrastructural development across the country more than any other government since independence. We recall too well how Edgar Lungu would fly into Northern, Muchinga and Luapula provinces monitoring progress on developmental projects. Where are those projects? Did they vanish with his loss on August 12? Were these infrastructure projects developing only in PF propagandists’ eyes and pockets?
What Mabumba is saying about unbalanced development in Northern and Luapula is a telling indictment on the PF. They have left the country with huge debts – local and foreign – but very little to show for it. This is treachery! In fact, the PF held all the 13 constituencies in Northern Province, there was no opposition. In Luapula, they held 14 out of the 15 constituencies. The other constituency went to an Independent who had also become their surrogate. So, why couldn’t they develop these two provinces if in deed their rhetoric of supporting the government of the day was anything to go by? Now we know who the PF and that leadership truly are – what they were made of! Populists by word of mouth, typical hypocrites.

As Wes Fesler once said, “Hypocrisy is the audacity to preach integrity from a den of corruption.’’
And Navonne Johns aptly noted that, “A person’s character is shown through their actions in life NOT where they sit on Sunday.”

PF had taken this country to levels where corruption dictated everything. They wanted a cut in everything, no matter how small it was. This is how low our country had sunk.

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