Zesa: Excuses, delusional promises, load-shedding . . .


One key difference between a developing country and a developed one is power management.

Electricity has become a basic need and its unhindered, continuous and smooth supply is the necessity, but in countries like Zimbabwe, it’s still a luxury and more or less an elusive dream.

Whether it is in a mega-city like Harare or a small, remote town like Gokwe, the aggravated story of dismal power supply remains the same.

Throughout the country, in all the 10 provinces, in every major or minor city, in every town or village, there is nothing like solid and robust power supply.

The so-called load-shedding remains an integral part of rural and urban life. It doesn’t even go away in summer, but in winter, it becomes a thorn in the flesh.

If the abuse and curses Zesa gets in winter were written on paper and loaded onto the Titanic, it wouldn’t require a storm to sink it.

The hide-and-seek game played by electricity only irritates consumers more. It not only disturbs their mental state and physical well-being, but also results in massive financial losses with regard to electrical appliances. Frequent power breakdowns have turned people’s lives miserable.

Whenever the consumers protest, Zesa’s obstinate clowns shrug and with an intelligent and scornful frown blame the shortage of electricity on obsolete power generators and shortage of forex.

On Sunday, Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira reportedly said Zimbabwe will only have surplus electricity supply in three years time after the construction of four more units at the country’s two major power stations.

The two units at Hwange Power Station, according to Gwasira, will produce 600 megawatts while the other in Kariba will have a capacity of 150 megawatts each. But, the actual construction of the units begins next year.

It is not a secret the daily load-shedding exercise has crippled industrial operations and routine business which cannot do without electricity.

Why has Zesa failed to refurbish these generators over years – and in phases? Whose fault is it? Who has to resolve these issues?

Of course, it’s the parastatal’s duty. That is why they are government-owned. It is their responsibility to provide the people with basic utilities like power supply. If there are problems, they are the ones to resolve them. If they can’t do it, they have no reason to remain in charge.

Many large countries like China and very small countries like Bolivia have adopted earlier reform models according to their own needs and circumstances.

Both developed and developing countries have embarked on programmes of liberalising and reforming their power sectors.

The reasons for reforming the electricity sector in the mentioned countries have been:

The poor performance of the state-run electricity sector in terms of high cost, inadequate expansion of access to electricity services for the population and /or unreliable supply.

The inability of the stateowned sector to finance the needed expenditures on new investment.

There is no doubt that a lengthy period of state ownership, without the forces of competition or the incentives of the profit motive to improve performance, will eventually result in excessive costs, low-quality services, poor investment decisions and lack of sensitivity in supplying customers.

Hence, changes in the sector will provide new industrial structures possible.

Zesa, among other State-controlled utilities, has been too slow in adopting modern changes. The private sector offers many new approaches to providing power at lower cost, especially to consumers with low levels of demand through innovations in customer service and cost recovery mechanisms.

Persistent power outages have been the most dramatic instances the consuming public has seen to make them wholeheartedly embrace reforms.

There is no doubt that Zesa should play ball, and deliver quality service to the people. With Josh Chifamba, who claims to have turned around electricity services sector in Lesotho, one wonders when our turn will come!

Curiously, the immediate past administration had claimed the capacity to tackle the nation’s power supply problems in order to ensure uninterrupted power supply within three years without first studying the problems in the Zesa establishment.

The result was a dismal