Malawi’s Minister of Energy, Ibrahim Matola has clarified that his ‘Achule’ remarks was not meant to attack ordinary Malawians but rather opposition politicians, who are failing to appreciate the development which the Tonse Government led by President Lazarus Chakwera is doing in the country.
Speaking during the commissioning of Golomoti Solar Power Plant in Dedza on Monday, Matola asked President Chakwera to stand strong by not paying attention to the unnecessary critics being made by opposition politicians parties whom he referred as achule (frogs).
The Minister, through a statement issued by his spokesperson Marshall Dyton, says the remarks, which caused anger to Malawians on the social media platforms, was misinterpreted because he only meant to request the President to remain focused in delivering developments without wasting time listening to opposition politicians, who are trying their best to frustrate the ruling government.
He said opposition parties are failing to appreciate the current developments and plans which the government is doing, saying such actions shows that they don’t love the country.
“It is very likely that my speech which was shared in the social media was taken by opposition politicians who just want to mislead Malawians and tarnish my image because out of my 15 minutes speech which I delivered, they only cut the ‘achule’ part since they had a mission.
“The truth is that, in my full sentence I started by saying that the President should go ahead in delivering developments in the country without wasting time with opposition politicians because even an elephant cannot be stopped or afraid of drinking water from a river due to crying frogs,” said the statement.
Barely few hours after delivering his speech, some Malawians including civil society organisations expressed anger and have been asking Matola to issue an apology on his remarks.
In his official speech, Matola said as preparations are underway to restore Kapichira Hydro Power Station — which was damaged by floods during Cyclone Ana in January the Golomoti projects would complement the loss of 132 megawats from Kapichira.
“The developments in the energy sector are as a result of good collaboration between a number of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies,” he said. “The work of MITC, MEPA, MERA, Ministry of Lands, Local Government, Power Market Limited is being acknowledged in this project and other projects under development.”
He added that more needs to be done to ensure minimal delays in processing projects and he assured the nation more power generation would be added more to the grid and ramp up the national capacity to 1,000MW as guided by Chakwera.
The Golomoti project was built by private investor, JCM Power — which was awarded two projects following the first competitive tender launched by the Government using the Independent Power Producers (IPP) framework.
“JCM were awarded the Salima Nanjoka 60MW solar plant [which was launched by Chakwera in November 2021] and the Golomoti 20MW solar project,” Matola said.
“I would like to congratulate JCM for not only coming out of the competitive process with two projects but also for being first to deliver the two projects relatively quicker considering the challenges that most independent Power Producers are experiencing due to the CoVID-19 pandemic.”
He added that since the Tender for Solar was processed in 2019, his Ministry has had a lot of enquiries in unsolicited way for projects in the power market.
“A number of IPPs are currently developing their projects but it is important that we urge them to expedite the process. We are aware of the challenges that have been presented as a result of CoVID-19. However, there are options for processes to continue regardless JCM Power has led the way in the same challenging times.
In his speech, President Chakwera said government has secured a US$60 million loan from World Bank for the restoration of Kapichira Hydro Power Station, saying that will significantly reduce load shedding in the next six months.
“The rehabilitation of Kapichira Hydro Power plant is critical because it will help us to stay focus of reaching our target of having 1,000 megawatts supplying to the national grid within the next 3 years,” he said, adding the restoration of Kapichira aligns to the need to prioritise energy production as an enablers for the industrialisation as enshrine in the MW2063 vision.