IT IS totally unacceptable that electricity load shedding should force the mining industry to close down operations. This is contrary to assertions by the Minister of Energy Mr. Christopher Yaluma who assured the nation against such eventuality.
Obviously something is very wrong.
The nation should be able to take the Minister at his word, but it would appear that he is not in full control of the situation which is fast deteriorating to a situation where jobs will be lost and substantial production capacity will be curtailed.
Apart from the electricity crisis we are also confronted with the Indeni feedstock contamination quagmire which will also affect the nation negatively.
Our concern however is with electricity where there is an apparent lack of serious prioritization in the manner the limited electricity being generated will be utilized.
The declaration of a force majeure against the mining industry does not seem the best way to proceed considering that the industry is the goose that lays the copper egg. This is tantamount to starving the goose in order to save the consumers. The loss of jobs and production capacity will have deleterious and immediate impact on the nation.
Politically it is untenable while economically it does not make sense.
Whatever amount of electricity we generate must be apportioned in a manner that makes economic, social and political sense. We are not the only country seriously affected by load shedding, but we seem to be the only country that is rationing rather indiscriminately.
Zambians will make sacrifices where the cause is clear but not in the present circumstances where productive capacities are being sacrificed at the altar of expediency, in the sense that load shedding should have a logic and pattern to it.
No doubt domestic consumption is important, but not so important that industry should be starved. By order of priority the mines should be highest priority followed by industry in general and finally domestic consumption.
Load shedding industry will impact national productivity. The Zambia Association of Manufacturers has already expressed very serious concern with the exercise which may ultimately impact on the growing deficit.
We certainly and very strongly endorse the proposed meeting between the mining industry and the President in order to secure very firm assurances, currently lacking. Zesco as a parastatal must be under very clear directives that serve the best interests of the country.
The Chamber of Mines must seek the highest level of dialogue with the Government to extract very firm assurances on which they can plan. Without such assurances our economic performance will be seriously affected.