Wednesday, October 28, 2020

BCP on the Deepening Power Crisis

Since 2008, our country has been hit by serious and widespread power outages that have disrupted all areas of national life. Load shedding has continued unabated for six straight years with varying intensity and debilitating effect on households, institutions, businesses and service delivery. The cost to the economy is surely immense. The suffering and inconvenience visited on the citizenry is unacceptable. The consequences of the power outages are too ghastly to contemplate. Jobs have been lost, businesses have gone under, opportunities have been scampered and it is possible that some lives may have been lost due to the power outages. The cumulative impact of the power crisis in Botswana has caused dire uncertainty and strain to the nation that shall be difficult to reverse in the foreseeable future. Government’s response to the power crisis has been sluggish, lacklustre and deceitful. Starting with the statement delivered to Parliament by the then Minister of MEWR Hon Kedikilwe in February of 2008; responses to Parliamentary questions by successive ministers of MEWR; Press Releases by the Botswana Power Corporation; statement to Parliament by the current Minister of MRWA on February 2013 and statements attributed to the State President Ian Khama Seretse Khama, one traces a litany of unfulfilled promises and empty assurances on the issue of power and energy resources. The pattern that emerges is of a government that is without a strategic vision or foresight; a government that is reckless and lacks accountability and a government that is wasteful and corrupt.

The BCP locates the first source of the current power crisis at the short sighted strategy of Government of emphasizing power importation as opposed to self-sufficiency and possible exportation. Energy is a strategic national resource like food and water. It is thus extremely risky to depend on another nation for its supply. The emphasis on power importation that Hon Kedikilwe traces to the Pressure by BOCCIM should never have been allowed to take root and the BDP Government must take responsibility for failing to evolve a sustainable energy policy over the years. The second source of the power crisis in Botswana is the feeble, half-hearted and reckless plunge to attain power self-sufficiency. Because power self-sufficiency was never the policy of government, when it emerged that an electricity crisis was looming, Government without paying attention to detail rushed to engage an incompetent Chinese Contractor to install a 600 MW power station at Morupule at a whooping cost of P 11 billion. In the process, Government paid little attention to the management capacity of BPC to carry out a project of that magnitude. Darkness is now the product of the Government’s poor vision and lack of foresight. What is disturbing throughout this power crisis is that both Government and BPC have been extremely arrogant, discourteous and economic with the truth. Customers are hardly warned of impending outages and apologies are hardly ever proffered for the inconvenience caused. The President and the Minister assured the nation that power outages will not occur again after July 13, 2013. This has not happened and the President in Particular has remained quiet. He should step up to the plate and tell us why his promise has not materialized. The power crisis has further revealed to us the character of our current leaders. They refuse to take responsibility for failure. They are also insensitive and disrespect those that have given them the mandate to rule.

As we navigate through darkness occasioned by the deepening power crisis, the BCP propose the following:

1) That the Government tell the nation the truth about the real extent of the problem at Morupule B and whether or not such problems are surmountable

2) That Government accepts liability and give support to entities that have been negatively affected by regular power outages

3) Out of courtesy, BPC must announce power outages and load shedding so that individuals and entities could mobilize alternatives in the short term

4) That given our massive coal resources, a long term strategic vision to produce sufficient power for consumption and export be developed in Botswana

5) That alternative, renewable and clean sources of energy be explored and used in Botswana

The BCP views the power crisis besetting our nation in very serious light. It is against this background that the BCP Central Committee meeting at the Botswana National Productivity Centre on the 7th March, 2014 has asked its leader and the current Leader of Opposition Hon Dumelang Saleshando to present a statement in Parliament on the deepening power crisis besetting Botswana. As a party, we shall also engage with stakeholders to appreciate their take on the current crisis.

Taolo Lucas
Information and Publicity Secretary
BCP

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