There is now more blackouts than lighting in Zimbabwe. Children in high-density suburbs now noisily and jubilantly celebrate when power returns. The abnormal has become the normal.
In a frank admission of failure, power utility Zesa Holdings this week announced that it had, with immediate effect, abandoned its scheduled load-shedding programme altogether as power shortages have worsened due to a series of technical faults at Hwange Power Station, we are made to understand.
Zesa said it was working on improving power supply and urged consumers to use electricity sparingly. Are they serious? How can households which are getting at the very most six hours of power per day use that little supply “sparingly”? That is asking too much. There is just no electricity to use “sparingly”. It’s like asking people at the end of the tether to further tighten their belts.
But Zesa is not an exception. Roads, hospitals, schools — you name it — it is the same story of deterioration and dilapidation, much of which can be traced to gross corporate misgovernance as has become the norm in public utilities and other State-run companies.
A big chunk of money supposed to be spent on service delivery has been diverted by the top brass to award themselves obscene salaries and unjustly enriching themselves from tenders. The promised shake-up in the wake of the “Salarygate” scandal has not come.
There is no readiness to take the bull by the horns. There is extreme reluctance to confront problems head-on and deal with them openly. There is disinclination to determinedly solve problems. All we hear is premature celebration of ZimAsset as a success when it has hardly been implemented. Propaganda has taken precedence over practical solutions. As a result, time, precious time, is being wasted.
Said Zesa: “The power utility apologises to its valued customers for the inconvenience caused and would do its best to address the current challenges to improve the power supply situation.”
What challenges? This is a crisis of immense proportions whereas a challenge is a minor hurdle that can be surmounted with ease. Criminal and incompetent elements hide behind this political correctness that has, for all practical purposes, replaced company mission statements.
As a result, such companies are being sunk by excess baggage which contributes nothing in the value chain, giving the barest of service or none at all to the long-suffering public.
The country is virtually in an undeclared economic state of emergency, but they won’t admit that for political correctness.
They use language or are ordered to use language that is not offensive to oversensitive egos holding high political office in the land.
In the service of this political correctness, the word “crisis” was long ago banned and replaced by “challenges”.
As a result, management would rather protect their jobs than point out deep-seated and self-inflicted ills. They will blame sanctions when deep down they know that it is all due to incompetence and corruption.
That is the dark state of the nation today — not the rosy picture of ZimAsset being painted.