Power cuts no longer laughing matter

Social media has been reverberating with derisive jokes in recent weeks in view of the punishing load-shedding exercise by power utility Zesa. One popular joke has a caricature of an old woman on a ladder pegging washed clothes on the electricity lines and poles with the caption: “No fear, Zesa now obsolete.”

Another joke was to the effect that due to the extreme load-shedding hype, newly-born babies are now being named after the topical electricity hysteria, with names such as, “Generator”, “Matches”, “Energysaver”, “Prepaidmeter” and “Paraffin” becoming common among many others. These are jokes, perhaps meant to lighten the suffering, but in all honesty, load-shedding in this country is no longer a laughing matter as some conceive. Zesa should be made to account; the institution is doing great violence to the overstrained people of Zimbabwe. The tendency, generally, has been to look at the effects of load-shedding in the context of the negative impact on industry, but the adverse impact on the ordinary Zimbabweans is equal if not worse than what industry endures. Imagine that people have to contend with a cruel 16 hours of darkness at no notice! And Zesa continues with business as usual. Surely, this cannot be allowed to be normal. Zesa must not be allowed to normalise the abnormal. Even as some have joked, nowadays electricity in homes is no longer a given, but something which occasionally comes; the normal state of power in the country is now denoted by an absence. Indeed, Zesa are doing the nation a disservice; they should justify the faith bestowed upon them for the national cause especially when every family religiously buys prepaid electricity throughout the month.

DCF 1.0

What is worse is that there seems to be no plausible pattern followed in the load-shedding exercise and, on their part, Zimbabweans have come to accept the psychologically draining sessions which can now last as long as 18 hours. Had it been in other countries, Press statements would be periodically released to notify the important customer of what is taking place, but not with our electricity authority. The power cuts had been held back in recent months, but the last weeks have really turned on the heat or maybe call it the cold on hapless Zimbabweans who do not know what to do. It would appear institutions no longer have a conscience in their display of mediocrity. Even if the situation is beyond the institution’s control, it is prudent to make this clear unlike a situation where everyone speculates on the low water levels at Kariba Dam or some mythical technical faults.

Sometime in June, during winter Zesa made an announcement to the effect that there would be serious power cuts due to technical faults at Hwange Power Station and perhaps this was to be expected in winter. Now, the load-shedding has really gone out of way. In reality Zimbabweans would be justified to say there is no electricity in homes if power has to be restored at an unearthly hour like 2am.

The impact on both industry and ordinary Zimbabweans is gruelling. It is well known that over 85% of the adult population is unemployed and most people have set up small enterprises that rely on electricity in the home. People who survive on small businesses like peanut butter manufacturing, Internet cafes, typing and welding are having their small incomes choked by the brutal power cuts. It really boggles the mind what should become of the impoverished Zimbabwean when he cannot freely vend and when he has no electricty in the home to work on small income-generating ventures. Should Zimbabweans be eternally condemned to a life of begging in foreign lands? Honestly, how do they survive?

On the one extreme, industry has not wasted time retaining labour or paying workers for hours affected by power cuts. Labour cases continue to be the order of the day as workers and employers fight over this matter. Industry is also trying to survive and resorting to costly generators for power is not the best profitable way to operate.

Zesa has condemned the citizenry to an archaic way of living; imagine candles, kerosene, Chinesse battery-powered lights, gas stoves and firewood in Harare not to talk of Binga or other remote areas. As a general thing, the urban dwellers endure agonising days and nights on account of the power cuts and have to shoulder extra costs like buying the mentioned things to improvise. Incomes hardly suffice as it stands and buying prepaid electricity is no longer adequate.

The power cuts even have a plethora of negative social effects. Think of the students who have to sit for exams. How about vulnerability to criminals in the long, dark hours? Women in most high-density suburbs have had to deliver in candle-lit clinics and it’s even worse in some 24-hour clinics which are virtually operating using candles. The negative socio-economic ramifications of power cuts are just, but too much and indeed Zesa must up their game. Zimbabweans deserve better.

lLearnmore Zuze is a legal researcher, public speaking trainer and media analyst. He writes here in his own capacity. Email: lastawa77@gmail.com

14 Comments

  1. After buying power from PRE- THEFT meters you are forced to buy candles,gas,firewood,battery powered Chinese lights etc instead of upgrading power supply from PRE-THEFT meters you use the money to pay Evil Servants and endless trips to the far east to seek medical treatment which we,the majority are failing to access at the local council clinic, pse resign whilst there is still something to salvage from the mess

  2. If you dont want public opinion just remove the comments section pse. After buying power from PRE- THEFT meters you are forced to buy candles,gas,firewood,battery powered Chinese lights etc instead of upgrading power supply from PRE-THEFT meters you use the money to pay Evil Servants and endless trips to the far east to seek medical treatment which we,the majority are failing to access at the local council clinic, pse resign whilst there is still something to salvage from the mess

  3. Right article at the right time, vakomana zesa,zifa zinwa,zinara aaah ipressure, taona moto

  4. ZESA Holdings is the diametric opposite of Electricity Supply Commission, its Rhodesian predecessor. The ESC was efficient and run commercially and I remember that it was rare for power to be off for more than a few hours per year. The BS we were fed when ZH was formed has come back to haunt the organisation. I hear there is maladministration writ-large. As is the norm with most ZPF nominated people, bleed-the-company mentality rules there. What would one expect from a subordinate who worships their superordinate who has run out of ideas and both are parasites?

  5. And it looks ECONET is copying ZESA its network is on load shedding.That aside, poor planning we thought equipment will work forever, we did not expand neither do we maintain the little we have.

  6. Zesa is just a useless thing in zimbabwe and the world, to say the least about it.

  7. Funny Zimbos. Of course, ZESA is wrong. But we all know the real culprit in Zim. The big, ancient elephant in the room. Because every parastatal is in trouble. The only common factor is that big elephant. eliminate it and we all might have some hope.

  8. since wen mvura ichipera Ku Kariba kubhaiza enda kum a kwemunhu iyeye arikutaura kudaro ariko magetsi izvezvi. the prob with zimbos is lack of unity cz is they could demonstrate pazvaitika zvaisadzokororwa mazimbo makanyanya kudzidza kusvika pakuita dununu manje gorerino no zesa izvezvi fyn Yang battery low no power tomaona name 00 00 midnyt ndokuti zim. once upon a tyn paiva nemutume nemukadzi vainetsana murume ainyanya kuhura, vakazonetsana zvembiri mukadzi ndokuisa poto yemafuta pa stove after some mints kwakudira murume wanei nurume haasi kutsva hezvo hakuna magetsi murume akafara acheta vadzima

  9. Sustainable enegies eg SOLAR and WIND electic power is the answer! other options are Thermal & gas. Please do open up the Energy sector!

    Remove ZESA monopoly moipa even to Econet they will do wonders I tell you!!! ZESA is sitting on its laurels and are being unnecessarily protected same as what used to happen to PTC/Telone and NRZ private players are efficient!

    Look at how Europe eg GERMANY has managed its power efficiently. Every approved new house is “Green” in that it is energy efficient and generates electricity through eg solar/ wind generation. Their Prepaid electric meters do REVERSE when you generate enough energy and export it to the national grid i.e you are paid for generating surplus power.

    Most provinces have mighty dams and rivers eg SAVE river, Devure River, Gairezi, Osborne dam, Odzi River, Pungwe River, Limpopo River, Tokwe Mukorsi, Manjirenji Dam, Lake Chivero, Lake Mutirikwe, Bangala Dam, Mazvikadei Dam, Manyuchi Dam,Tokwe Mukorsi Dam, Gwenoro Dam, Manjirenji Dam, Manyuchi Dam, Kariba Dam These can be used to unleash Hydro Power effectively. In Southern Africa ZIm has the second best potential to generate Power!
    In ZIM its almost a crime to generate electricity EMA, ZERA, ZESA will be on your case we do have the brains a lot of people have generated power and got into trouble!!!!! And worse still when you do all the paperwork and generate power you have to 1st feed into THE NATIONAL grid!!! and Get RATIONED yes you got it YOU GET LOAD SHEDDING on your own POWER!!! I hope this stops since ZESA is a FAILURE of repute.

    ZESA used to hide behind the FOREX Finger but they now have the USD PREPAID!!!!!! why not import the power then if you have my USD in advance (ndipeika mari yandakupai nditenge huni pamusika/charcoal kkk.)

    They now have other fingers to hide behind eg we are undergoing routine maintenance, we have low water in Kariba, we are this that and the silly other… Why expand through REA when industry is crying since when did you inherit ZESA but you NEVER attempt to increase capacity!!!!

    At independece every City Council would generate enough energy for eg street lights the projects have gathered dust and some have been stripped of vital parts and components which have been sold abroad to line someones pocket!!!
    Some individuals & the Lord knows why are not paying up yet ZESA knows them and the poor are footing the bill

  10. Sustainable enegies eg SOLAR and WIND electic power is the answer! other options are Thermal & gas. Please do open up the Energy sector!

    Remove ZESA monopoly moipa even to Econet they will do wonders I tell you!!! ZESA is sitting on its laurels and are being unnecessarily protected same as what used to happen to PTC/Telone and NRZ private players are efficient!

    Look at how Europe eg GERMANY has managed its power efficiently. Every approved new house is “Green” in that it is energy efficient and generates electricity through eg solar/ wind generation. Their Prepaid electric meters do REVERSE when you generate enough energy and export it to the national grid i.e you are paid for generating surplus power.

    Most provinces have mighty dams and rivers eg SAVE river, Devure River, Gairezi, Osborne dam, Odzi River, Pungwe River, Limpopo River, Tokwe Mukorsi, Manjirenji Dam, Lake Chivero, Lake Mutirikwe, Bangala Dam, Mazvikadei Dam, Manyuchi Dam,Tokwe Mukorsi Dam, Gwenoro Dam, Manjirenji Dam, Manyuchi Dam, Kariba Dam These can be used to unleash Hydro Power effectively. In Southern Africa ZIm has the second best potential to generate Power!
    In ZIM its almost a crime to generate electricity EMA, ZERA, ZESA will be on your case we do have the brains a lot of people have generated power and got into trouble!!!!! And worse still when you do all the paperwork and generate power you have to 1st feed into THE NATIONAL grid!!! and Get RATIONED yes you got it YOU GET LOAD SHEDDING on your own POWER!!! I hope this stops since ZESA is a FAILURE of repute.

    ZESA used to hide behind the FOREX Finger but they now have the USD PREPAID!!!!!! why not import the power then if you have my USD in advance (ndipeika mari yandakupai nditenge huni pamusika/charcoal kkk.)

    They now have other fingers to hide behind eg we are undergoing routine maintenance, we have low water in Kariba, we are this that and the silly other… Why expand through REA when industry is crying since when did you inherit ZESA but you NEVER attempt to increase capacity!!!!

    At independece every City Council would generate enough energy for eg street lights the projects have gathered dust and some have been stripped of vital parts and components which have been sold abroad to line someones pocket!!!
    Some individuals & the Lord knows why are not paying up yet ZESA knows them and the poor are footing the bill

  11. Why not investigate why certain areas have longer outages than others? surely we should all have a fair share of available power? i personally know of people bribing zesa employees to keep the power on or move them onto a better power grid. Again corruption runs rife!!

  12. These days if there is electricity for the whole day we say there is a fault coz the norm is no electricity and the abnormal is electricity available. Phew Taneta!

  13. What are you going on about? “They should not be allowed?” Zesa or any other parastal cannot not be successful in a country that has been wrecked this way by Zanu.

  14. The problem with us is failure to plan for the long term, project implementation, operation and maintenance. What’s more everything is politicized. We need a credible and fearless civil society that will speak up when idiots who lead us lie the way they do. Do you think VP ED was gunuine when he said in parliament that government was concerned by the power cuts? Since when? He even went on to show they have no clue what is going to happen to the power situation between now and the time Kariba and Hwange projects are completed?

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