Saturday, September 26, 2020

Power outages should not be allowed to breed desperation

Since power outages took a turn for the worse two months ago, government, particularly the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, has been inundated with all sorts of proposals from private interests, literally pleading with government to be allowed to sell power.

Ordinarily, there should be nothing wrong with that as that is what to expect from private businesses whose primary motive is to make money.
But the problem is that there is nothing ordinary about the proposals that have lately been coming the way of government.

While for an ordinary person there may have been nothing wrong with them, a closer look reveals attempts by these companies to literally plunder the Botswana government.

Government should be ultra careful not to sell itself and the nation short to these overnight saviours who are all out to bleed the government coffers.

As a nation, we are worried about the power cuts but we should even be more worried that an array of vultures has all of a sudden started flying low, ready to get a slice from what they see as a dying beast that is Botswana.
The situation is reminiscent of the early 1990s when all sorts of characters descended on Botswana under the guise that they were to help alleviate the negative impacts of the HIV/AIDS scourge.

Botswana ended up hosting the world’s biggest number of HIV/AIDS careerists.
It was a plain case of people feeding on the plight of our nation.

Back to the energy crisis, the Ministry of Minerals has recently said they have been struck by one proposal in which a group of independent power suppliers approached government with a bill of P24 million a month. Now, that is insanity gone wild.

The Minister of Minerals, PHK Kedikilwe, has said giving in to such proposals would be tantamount to mortgaging the country.

We cannot agree with him more.
Government should not give in to vultures taking advantage of our plight.
We applaud Minister Kedikilwe’s uprightness, openness, humility and grace in his handling of the power crisis.

His approach to go out of his way to personally engage and explain to the nation what steps government is taking to remedy the situation has not only been breathtaking but also humbling.
He started by briefing parliament, the media, business and everyone else who would listen.

He has even gone as far as to show remorse for the mistakes by owning up and apologizing. We cannot ask for more.
No doubt mistakes have been made, but we doubt if continual brooding and endless apportioning of blame will lead to any progress.

After all, what Batswana now need to know is what their government is doing to correct the situation after what have no doubt been some royal mistakes by their government.

The situation as it is means that the government will have to think inside the box to make good decisions for the nation.

There will no doubt be a lot of horse trading to be made.

But in all these, we urge our government to be steadfast in their resolve to fight in the corner of this nation and protect the interests of its people.
The power crisis has all of a sudden brought to the fore marauding vultures ÔÇô footloose capitalists who are all out to make quick money out of the country’s plight.

With supplies from South African power utility dwindling and the contracts fast coming to an end, there is a near insurmountable pressure on government to be seen to be doing something.
As we have said before in these pages, the government should only take those offers that are in the best interests of this country and its people.

The negotiations, as in the multi-million Pula Mmamabula Power Project, are not only going to be protracted and drawn out but also full of chicanery. No doubt, the issues discussed at the negotiation table are going to be sensitive, made worse by the fact that different parties know what is at stake, especially the fact that pressure is mounting on government and time is running out.
We need skill, care and perseverance on the part of our team.

Government representatives should know the kind of people they are negotiating with.

More importantly they should have a detailed understanding of the long term sustainability they are committing the country and nation into.

Government negotiators are advised that by all intents and purposes, they should avoid short term approaches to the problem. Tariff affordability is also a key issue that has to be considered. They should take into consideration such things as environmental concerns.

Environmental concerns are already the world’s topical issues. As such, government representatives should be well conversant with various international protocols on gas emissions, especially those that bind Botswana, or are likely to, as a result of Botswana’s association with the key global economic players like the European Union.

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