The series of blackout crises besieging the country track a litany of “mistruths” by the leadership over the years about the state of supply of electricity in Botswana.
First to “mislead” the nation was President Ian Khama in Maun two years ago. Despite assurances by Khama that power blackouts would end, the country is still experiencing load shedding.
At the 35th Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) National Congress held at Maun Senior Secondary School on July 5, 2013, the President spoke to the nation:“I have been assured that, barring anything unforeseen, the current accelerated programme of works between the contractor and BPC is aimed at ensuring that Batswana have power, and that blackouts come to an end by the end of this month”.
But two years later, the country is still haunted by blackouts contrary to the presidential promise.
At the Maun occasion, Khama talked about the setbacks in securing the commissioning and handing over of the Morupule B Power Station.
He said if the construction and commissioning programme had been on schedule, the country would have met its target on self-sufficiency in power-generation and security of supply.
He stated that he did visit the Morupule B Power Station on June 6, 2013 and was happy to observe that the construction and commissioning of the power station had been completed.
He said the substantial progress had been made by all parties concerned to finish the outstanding remedial works in order to release all the four units that would inject a total of 600MW into the national grid.
However, to date the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) is still experiencing supply challenges and is pleading with the nation to reduce the usage of power to avoid load shedding.
Last year March, as the blackouts left the country in dark again, the Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila and BPC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jacob Raleru borrowed Khama’s stylebook and tried to spin the issue.
But Mokaila and Raleru pathetically contradicted each other in their spin doctoring of the electricity crisis.
This followed reports that Unit 1 and Unit 4 at Morupule ‘B’ power station, that had been sporadically supplying power to the country, were off.
It was said Unit 1 was failing to raise load beyond 40 mega watts while Unit 4 had a tube leak and boiler problem.
At the time, Mokaila told Parliament that the first unit would be added to the national grid before the end of March while the second unit would be added before the end of April.
“Unit 1 is currently running and will be taken out of service for boiler modifications once the three other units are brought back into service and at an appropriate time,” said a smug Mokaila then.
He said then that Unit 2 was the only one of the four units, which had not yet been taken over by BPC.
“The boiler has been modified as per the recommendations of the designers and is expected to be brought in (to) service by the end of April.”
Three days later, Raleru told a press conference that by the end of June all four units would be running at Morupule ‘B’.
He said the BPC expected to finalise re-modification and repairs on the three faulty Morupule ‘B’ units and restore them in phases, with Unit 3 being restarted first in April, followed by Unit 2 in May and Unit 4 in June.
Raleru said when Unit 3 was reintegrated into the grid in April ,the country should experience a lower incidence of load shedding during off-peak hours, but continue with a high risk of blackouts during peak periods.
“Electricity demand and supply should almost balance out when Unit 2 comes back onto the grid in May, while the system will experience a slight surplus when the fourth unit is restored in June,” the CEO said.
A year later, the country that depends on the neighbouring South Africa for power supply, is still experiencing load shedding.
Despite inconsistency of the powers that be, nobody has lost his job for misleading the consumers.
Mokaila was brought to Parliament through the ‘back door’ last year after he lost in the general elections in October.
Likewise, in spite of his inconsistencies, Khama is still the first citizen of Botswana while Raleru occupies his plum job as BPC top boss.