A rights group has demanded Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) to pay back overcharged consumers following revelations that the company illegally hiked electricity tariff.
Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has made the call in a statement signed by executive director Sylvester Namiwa.
He said ESCOM should reverse the illegal tariffs and work out a mechanism to ensure that the consumers have been paid back what was overcharged.
The electricity tariff was increased from K94.43 per kilowatt per hour (Kwh) to K104.46. Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) announced the hike on March 29 saying it would be effective March 30 but it was revealed yesterday that MERA on March 29 also advised ESCOM to put the hike on hold.
Namiwa said it is illegal for ESCOM to make unilateral decisions. He, however, questioned MERA’s claims and suspected that the authority is being controlled by the Government to push the blame on ESCOM, following a backlash from the public over exorbitant charges, tariffs and levies on essential services and products such as water, electricity, fuel, cooking oil.
“It is high time the Tonse Alliance Government started taking responsibility for some of the administration’s mistakes, and not pushing the blame on individuals or institutions, as witnessed by this blame game between MERA and ESCOM,” he said.
Namiwa whose organization last week led the country in nationwide peaceful demonstrations against insulting tariffs and charges on essential goods and services, reminded President Lazarus Chakwera that Malawians are currently struggling to make ends meet due to among other things, the high cost of living, which is as a result of high cost of essential commodities and services such as water, electricity, cooking oil, fuel, mobile phone charges.
“The recent revelations at MERA and ESCOM are a clear manifestation that the country either ushered into office a President who is failing to firmly hold the reins of power due to his indecisiveness on matters of national importance, or a government which has total disregard for the plight of the poor and the marginalized people in society, or both,” he said.