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Winter crop doomed — farmers

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This year’s winter crop is doomed, Parliament was informed Tuesday.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on State Enterprises and Parastatals Management held a public hearing on the operations of Zesa and was told the winter crop, especially wheat, was a complete write-off in most parts of the country because Zesa had failed to supply farmers with power.

A representative from the Commercial Farmers’ Union, Marc Carrie-Wilson, said although Zesa was providing farmers with three days of electricity for 12 hours a day, the wheat crop needed 100% irrigation and electricity and power cuts are set to reduce wheat yields drastically.

“Zimbabwe requires 400 000 tonnes for national demand, but last year, due to inadequate electricity, we produced only 11 000 tonnes, meaning that the rest of the country’s wheat requirements had to be imported,” he said.

Carrie-Wilson suggested that Zesa should work out strategies to resolve billing problems, deal with theft and vandalism of its equipment and urged the government to invest in suitable power generation initiatives.

Norton Town Council chief executive officer Winslow Munyambi said non-availability of electricity was crippling the operations of water treatment and sewer reticulation plants.

“The current situation regarding power supply is that our plants are affected by load-shedding. The ideal situation is that there should be consistent power supply so that we provide services that are required,” Munyambi said.

He said electricity tariffs for water and sewer treatment plants should be reduced because local authorities were non-profit-making institutions.

Munyambi said if Zesa introduced pre-paid meters, it would force all consumers to pay for their electricity and help the parastatal to generate revenue and refurbish its infrastructure.

Members of the public said power outages at maternity hospitals threatened lives of expecting mothers and their babies.

“Nowadays hospitals ask us to bring candles and matches to maternity hospitals and we think it is unfair,” a female participant at the hearing said.

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