Parliament portfolio committee grills power company over adequate electricity for farmers

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Edward, Chindori Chininga, the chairman of the portfolio committee on mines and energy, Tuesday, blasted the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) for giving false information to farmers about the availability of electricity.

Chininga said ZETDC misled farmers by promising them three day of uninterrupted power supply per week when the company knew that it could not be possible owing to the problems at Hwange and Kariba power stations.

“There is nothing going on at Hwange and Kariba is producing 750 megawatts, which is also far below its potential capacity. So, how do you guarantee three days of power supply per week to farmers?” Chininga asked.

The mines committee also expressed concern over the shutdown of some mines in Zimbabwe, which had been forced to close because they had flooded.

The parliamentarians blamed ZETDC for the flooding owing to excessive load shedding.

One of the affected mines, Shabani Mashaba Mines has been shut down due to flooding since February, posing a serious threat to the asbestos industry.

Government had made an agreement with ZETDC that strategic sectors like mines would not be switched off to avoid flooding.

“We have a client like Shabani, which is closed because it is full of water. All the time you had problems with electricity there was an understanding with government that no mine shall be shutdown because of flooding.

Managing Director of ZETDC, Ernest Muchayi made a surprise confession, confirmed that it was true that no consultations were made with the government when the decision to switch off Shabani Mashaba Mines was made.

The MP for Glenview North, Fani Munengami accused ZETDC management of offloading their cash flow problems and salary requirements onto rate payers, who were made to pay astronomical bills when they were not getting their money’s worth.

But Muchavi denied this. He said: “Only 10% is going towards salaries.”

The MPs acknowledged that electricity billing problems started at the introduction of the multicurrency in the country. They advised that ZETDC put its house in order and not offload the burden on ratepayers.

Muchayi said while his company faced billing problems due to obsolete equipment, ratepayers needed to be educated on how to take metre readings in order to avoid confusion in paying their bills.

He also complained about wanton vandalism of company equipment, electricity imports debts and nonpayment of bills as some of the problems that ZETDC faced.