Lilongwe, April 28, 2021
ESCOM SHOULD REVERSE THE ILLEGAL TARRIFS, MERA OWES MALAWIANS AN EXPLANATION
The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) and indeed all Malawians of good will have learnt with shock about the reports that have emerged concerning the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESOM), which is alleged to have hiked the electricity tariffs in the month of March, 2021, without the authorization of the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA).
CDEDI finds this news very disturbing as it is illegal for ESCOM to make unilateral decisions. We are, on the other hand, surprised with the statements from MERA indicating that the regulatory body advised ESCOM not to put into effect the newly adjusted electricity tariffs. CDEDI has made inquiries from MERA to give details about this directive to ESCOM, but to no avail. We are, therefore, inclined to believe that the Tonse Alliance Government is remotely controlling MERA to push the blame on ESCOM, following a backlash from the public over exorbitant charges, tariffs and levies on essential services and products such as water, electricity, fuel, cooking oil, etc. Malawians of goodwill may wish to recall that on 21st April, 2021, CDEDI led the country in nationwide peaceful demonstrations against these insulting tariffs and charges on essential goods and services, which are hurting the poor and the marginalized.
In view of this development, CDEDI is making the following demands:
1. That MERA should discipline ESCOM over this embarrassing incident;
2. That ESCOM should reverse the illegal tariffs and workout a mechanism to ensure that the consumers have been paid back what was overcharged;
It is high time the Tonse Alliance Government started taking responsibility for some of the administration’s mistakes, and not pushing the blame on individuals or institutions, as witnessed by this blame game between MERA and ESCOM. Of late, President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has been a champion of this blame game, while taking credit for all the positives he claims his government has recorded under his leadership. For instance, Dr. Chakwera pushed the blame about the fuel supply saga at the National Oil Company of Malawi (NOCMA) on some people he claimed were sabotaging the current administration; he blamed the civil service for the MK6.2 billion Covid-19 scandal; he blamed the Vice President Dr. Saulos Chilima for delaying the assessment report for cabinet ministers, which has reportedly delayed the much-touted cabinet reshuffle; and the list goes on.
CDEDI is reminding President Chakwera that Malawians are currently struggling to make ends meet due to among other things, the high cost of living, which is as a result of high cost of essential commodities and services such as water, electricity, cooking oil, fuel, mobile phone charges, etc.
The recent revelations at MERA and ESCOM are a clear manifestation that the country either ushered into office a President who is failing to firmly hold the reins of power due to his indecisiveness on matters of national importance, or a government which has total disregard for the plight of the poor and the marginalized people in society, or both.
CDEDI EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR