How Joyce Banda contained the blackouts

 

When then estranged vice-president Joyce Banda ascended to the presidency in line with constitutional order following the death of Bingu wa Mutharika, some notable changes Malawians instantly noted were reduced power blackouts and an end to fuel shortages.

Exit Joyce Banda and enter Peter Mutharika after the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, the power outages quickly resurfaced.

Solved the blackouts problem: Banda

The Nation found out how JB, as Banda is fondly called by her followers, solved the power supply puzzle.

Ibrahim Matola, who served as minister of Energy and Mining during the Joyce Banda era, in an interview attributed the “disappearance” of blackouts during Banda’s reign from April 2012 to May 2014 to two factors.

He mentioned the commissioning of Kapichira Hydro-electric Power Station Phase II and “non- interference policy” Banda and her People’s Party (PP) employed on Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom).

Matola, who is PP secretary general, said in her term, Banda respected decisions made by the Escom board and did not interfere in its procurement processes.

Matola said between 2012 and 2014, there was no willy-nilly procurement through restricted tenders, saying restricted tenders breed misprocurement.

In a separate interview, Electricty Generation Company (Egenco) chief executive officer William Liabunya, who served as Kapichira  Hydro-electric Power Station manager under Escom, said improved generation and availability of power between 2012 and 2014 was a result of the commissioning of Kapichira Phase Two and good rains which did the magic.

He said Malawi did not invest in power generation for years until Bingu directed the use of funds from the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (Marep) to develop the second phase of Kapichira.

“It was just a coincidence that during the same time, the Kapichira two was commissioned, the country also had good rains,” he said. n

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