Power blackouts enrage Zambian fans

By Chris Mfula

LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambia’s state power utility has assured soccer fans there will be no further blackouts after complaints TV broadcasts of the World Cup from South Africa were being disrupted.

Soccer-crazy Zambians complained on Monday that they were unable to watch some of the matches following power blackouts, which hit parts of Zambia’s mineral-rich Copperbelt region, where playing and watching soccer is a way of life.

“We would like to warn Zesco (the state power utility) that they should not play on the minds of Zambians by switching off the power when we are watching soccer,” Peter Makembo told Reuters.

“Zesco should learn when to do load-shedding (power rationing) because the entire country is now focused on the World Cup,” said Makembo, leader of a local soccer fans’ group.

Makembo said tens of thousands of people had been unable to watch the France v Uruguay match on Friday and the England v U.S. match on Saturday due to the power blackout.

Zambian soccer fans, who have in recent years formed local supporters’ clubs for European soccer giants Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Real Madrid, have been watching the World Cup in pubs and public places as well as at home, cheering mainly African teams and their favourite European sides since the World Cup opened on Friday.

Germany, who beat Australia 4-0, in their opening game on Sunday are being widely tipped to win the World Cup by Zambian fans.

Until Sunday’s game when Ghana beat Serbia 1-0, many fans had rated Ivory Coast as their favourite team to put up the best performance by the six African teams participating in the June 11-July 11 tournament.
Spokeswoman at power utility Zesco, Lucy Zimba, said the company would ensure a steady supply of power so that the remaining matches were watched without interruption.

“We had a problem with one of the units which feeds power into the transmitter but the issue has now been resolved,” Zimba said.

Zimba added that electricity users should also avoid using too many appliances at the peak of demand during the night when some of the soccer matches were being televised.

“Customers should switch off appliances such as stoves and geysers to avoid power disruptions,” Zimba said.

Zambia has never qualified for a World Cup.

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