Tuesday, November 29, 2016

(LUSAKA TIMES) ZESCO workers oppose its pending privatisation

(LUSAKA TIMES) ZESCO workers oppose its pending privatisation
November 29, 2016

Unionised workers at state run power utility ZESCO have opposed government’s intention to privatize the company.

The National Union of Energy and Allied Workers (NESAWU) has revealed that around 58,000 workers will be thrown into the streets if government goes ahead with its intended privatisation of State Owned Enterprises.

Union General Secretary Mansom Musawu said workers at ZESCO are alarmed at government’ intention to privatise the firm and other State Owned Enterprisers (SOEs) as announced in the 2017 National Budget.

“As workers who have grown with ZESCO, we would like to put it on record that ZESCO is a viable organisation whose cash flow and availability of materials have improved tremendously since the introduction of the prepaid electricity metering system,” Mr Musawu said.

He said the workers are demanding that ZESCO remains in the hands of the government as a strategic company for economic growth and development.

Privatisation has only worked to the advantage of investors who are reaping huge profits

Mr Musawu charged that the private sector cannot be trusted to take electricity to the rural areas due to their narrow focus on profits and cost recovery.

“The evils of privatising ZESCO far outweigh the benefits. We have learnt lessons from the privatisation of ZCCM and other parastatals which are paying very little mineral loyalty tax and company corporate tax below what the 944,000 formal workers are paying to the treasury through Pay as You Earn (PAYE),” he said.

He said the loss of quality jobs in privatised companies such as ZCCM, Zambia Airways, UBZ, Zambia Railways, Zamtel (LapGreen) led to an explosion of precarious jobs through casualization and outsourcing.

“Evidence is there that privatisation took bread from the mouth of poor workers. Privatisation has only worked to the advantage of investors who are reaping huge profits while failing to grow jobs and pay enough taxes to fund our developmental needs.”

He added, “The intended privatisation of state owned enterprises will throw over 58,000 workers in unemployment and poverty. According to the 2014 Labour Force Survey published by the Central Statistical Office (CSO), the electricity, gas, stream and air conditioning sector employs over 16,000 workers.”

we would like to see more professionalism, transparency and no political interference in the way ZESCO is managed on issues such as ZESCO’s earnings from its power exports.

He stated that throwing 58,000 jobs contradicts government’s policy of creating 100,000 jobs by the year 2017 and 1 million jobs by 2021.

“NESAWU would like to see more professionalism, transparency and no political interference in the way ZESCO is managed on issues such as ZESCO’s earnings from its power exports.

“How much is ZESCO earning from its optic fibre cable which is being used by companies such as commercial banks, Airtel, MTN, ZAMTEL and government institutions?
How much is ZESCO owed by government institutions in electricity bills such as police, the army, water utility companies, government ministries, office of the President, education sector and government institutions?”
He asked, “How much are contractors siphoning from ZESCO on security, construction and cleaning when the company has its own staff to do this kind of work?
How much is ZESCO spending on personal emoluments and fringe benefits for its top heavy management which is leading to corporate greed?
How much is ZESCO losing by selling electricity through vendors who get a commission of 3% from ZESCO and at the same time charge customers through a Commission?”

Mr Musawu said the Industrial Development Corporation should not be used to kill companies but to create more companies and quality jobs through economic diversification.

“The electricity industry will always remain viable as it is critical ingredient in every economic activity. Given the presence of large rivers in Zambia and the positive economic growth, the country has recorded, government should borrow enough funds to build large hydro-electric dams in the Northern Province where the rain belt has shifted. Such projects should be able to pay for themselves as there is ready market in Zambia and the sub region which are experiencing power deficits.

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