A video of Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema boasting last month that his government had ended electricity blackouts, is being widely shared on WhatsApp two days after the country’s power utility firm announced indefinite power cuts of up to 12 hours a day.
“Is there somebody who’s been load shedded here? Put up your hand,” he said in December, before adding, “it’s because of the work we are doing behind the scenes”.
On Wednesday Zambia’s power utility – Zesco – attributed the drop in electricity supply to low water levels in the Kariba dam, which the country relies on for hydropower.
It also said routine maintenance works on a coal plant that feeds into the power grid was also contributing to the situation.
The public outcry has forced Mr Hichilema to change tune.
In a statement on Thursday he said he was aware of how the electricity disruption was affecting homes and businesses and that his government was “doing everything” to find immediate and long term solutions.
“We have said it before and we will say it again; we will spend most of this year unlocking domestic rigidities that affect economic growth,” Mr Hichilema said.
His government has also announced that it would cut power exports.
But Zambians on social media have continued expressing their unhappiness: