REPORTS that Zesa is technically insolvent are worrying and go to the heart of corporate governance in the public sector and parastatals.
For long Zesa has been at the centre of corruption allegations, but the country waits for the day when authorities will take decisive action.
A few years ago, it was revealed that ministers were refusing to pay bills to the power utility, when they were amongst the largest consumers of electricity.
Ministers use the parastatal as if it is their piggybank, with reports a few years ago that a minister and his deputy commandeered Zesa to instal electricity transformers at their rural areas, when it made no commercial sense.
Just recently, an emergency diesel power plant was set up from where Zesa would buy power if there was need; and despite protestations that the electricity was expensive, the government ploughed ahead with the project.
Then there is the mysterious $5 million, reports now say it was $7 million, given to Wicknell Chivayo’s Intratrek as pre-commencement funds, which nobody seems to have an idea what happened to it, as the solar project the money was meant to fund is yet to get off the ground more than a year later.
In the meantime, ordinary citizens are forced to pay for electricity, yet it is the big shots that are benefiting from this certain plunder of the parastatal.
Former Energy minister Samuel Undenge is facing charges relating to abuse of office in connection with a contract at one of Zesa’s subsidiaries, Zimbabwe Power Company, but that is woefully inadequate, as many people have plundered the parastatal.
It is a miracle that Zesa can still provide electricity when they have been plundered in such a manner and calling for heads to roll and more arrests is surely not asking for too much.
There is no way the country can expect Zesa to deliver when senior officials are looting and enriching themselves with impunity.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission — if it is worth its salt — ought to closely examine Zesa’s books and we are certain that these are a minefield of corruption and this should lead to prosecutions.
With Zesa saying it is insolvent, it would not be surprising to hear the government saying it is taking over the power utility’s debt and once again Zimbabweans will have to fork out to pay for a quasi-government body’s profligacy.
Authorities need to dig deep and explain why Zesa’s books are in such a bad shape and whoever is responsible ought to be held accountable.