It is not correct that Government is talking at cross purpose over load shedding with the mining industry.
On one hand the Minister of Energy Mr. Christopher Yaluma has assured the nation that the Mines would not be subjected to unilateral load shedding dictated by Zesco and yet in reality the Mines are already suffering the adverse effects of load shedding.
There seems to be a very clear disconnect between the Ministry of Energy, Copperbelt Energy Corporation and Zesco. They are not moving in tandem to the detriment of the This does not speak well of governance.
Reuters, the uk based news agency, is reporting that power cuts in Northwestern Province, which has the second biggest copper producing mines, has forced the reduction of production at both First Quantum Minerals and Lumwana. First Quantum smelter and Greenfield sentinel project were reported to be running at greatly reduced capacities.
This situation contradicts the minister and must be addressed expeditiously. The Minister insists that the mines, as our major economic activity will not be subject to load shedding without prior consultation and agreement. This creates a very untenable situation that deserves immediate resolution and it is gratifying that a crisis meeting will be held this weekend between all the major players to ensure that a more amicable solution is agreed upon.
It is common knowledge that the sub region is suffering from very severe effects of climate change that has culminated in low water levels and all countries are experiencing load shedding in various degrees. This is an act of God over which no human authority has power.
As usual however, many reasons have been advanced for the situation in Zambia including reports that our Chinese refurbished turbines were of inferior quality, while others allege that power is being exported to neighboring countries.
The turbine issue is not very cogent as Zambia is among the many countries experiencing load shedding with South Africa suffering the worst rolling blackouts. Credence however can be given to the export allegation.
In the absence of transparency it is difficult to establish the veracity of these claims.
If indeed Zambia is exporting, time has come to reconsider exports and direct power to our mines. The circumstances we face demand that contractual obligations are overtaken by way of force majeure clauses which free the parties from liability or obligation.
There is no question that the mines must receive the highest possible priority because apart from government they employ the largest number of people and generate a substantial chunk of our GDP.
Any interruption to supply will have ripple and cascading effects in the economy resulting in unemployment, reduced productivity and ultimately negative impact on GDP.
The situation we are facing demands political leadership because technocrats will not fully appreciate the extent to which such phenomenon as load shedding will impact on the social structure of the community..
Many critics have complained that it is not such much the load shedding, which is now fully appreciated but the manner in which it is seemingly indiscriminate, ill timed and at times incomprehensible.
Zesco must come out in the open to explain if indeed Zambia is exporting power and if so, to whom and why a force majeure cannot be declared.