Zimbabwe switched off

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Zimbabwe has reportedly been switched off by her neighbour, Mozambique, over an outstanding $80 million debt to that country’s power utility Hydro Cahorra Basa (HCB).

Although both Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira and Energy and Power Development permanent secretary Justin Mupamhanga declined to comment over the issue describing it as “too sensitive”, officials at the power utility who declined to be named confirmed last night that Zimbabwe had been switched off yesterday.

“It is very probable that such a thing has happened. This is because of the $80 million debt,” an impeccable source told NewsDay. HCB used to provide 100 megawatts definite supplies to Zesa.

Zimbabwe, which requires 2 100 megawatts, produces 1 320 megawatts while imports contribute 400 megawatts.

Other foreign power suppliers are Zambia’s Zesco (200 megawatts) and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Snel (100 megawatts).

South Africa’s Escom used to supply 400 megawatts to Zesa, but the contract expired in March 2011. Last month, Energy and Power Development minister Elton Mangoma pledged to pay $40 million towards settling the bill, but a delegation from HCB went back home empty-handed early this month after the power utility failed to pay the $40 million.

“I cannot comment on this issue, please call Zesa,” said Mupamhanga. Mangoma was not reachable yesterday as he was said to be out of the country on government business. Zesa issued a statement yesterday warning customers to brace for more load-shedding claiming “the situation is being compounded by depressed capacity to import from the region”.

Zesa is owed $450 million by customers.
Meanwhile, the power utility has intensified its debt recovery measures by switching off non-paying customers in order to settle its foreign debts.