Fatcats choke Zesa: Chasi

Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi yesterday said power utility Zesa was struggling to service its external debt and increase power importation to alleviate the current electricity crisis.

BY XOLISANI NCUBE/FARAI MATIASHE

Responding to questions at a post-Cabinet Press briefing last night, Chasi said Zesa was hamstrung by a creditors list which has top politicians across the divide and State entities.

“We just have to pay. This is not the time for political banter or what. We have to pay. Zesa is a commercial entity which needs to survive. It is owed in excess of $1,1 billion. Yes, today the Minister of Finance (Mthuli Ncube) has indicated that he would pay ZWL$20 million owed by government departments. That is a drop in the ocean,” Chasi said.

The country has been plunged into endless load-shedding due to depressed power generation as water levels at Lake Kariba were now below 30%, with thermal power generation at Hwange constantly suffering breakdowns due to obsolete infrastructure and equipment.

Chasi said local authorities owed the power utility over ZWL$300 million and domestic users were indebted to Zesa to the tune of ZWL$300 million as well.

According to the Energy minister, Zesa has to service its US$80 million external debt to Mozambique and Eskom of South Africa and Cabinet had agreed to pay at least US$10 million to ensure continued supply of energy.

Chasi said if pushed to the wall, Zesa would soon name and shame those who owed them for services rendered regardless of their station in society to force the individuals, mostly ruling Zanu PF party politicians, top government officials, ministers and the opposition, to settle their debts.

“We need to pay our debts. There is no quick fix here. We are getting about 50 megawatts (MW) from Eskom of South Africa. If we pay, we are able to get something in the region of 400MW,” he said.

Zimbabwe has been producing about 820MW from Kariba Dam and Hwange Thermal Power Station against a demand of 1 600MW in winter and 1 400MW in summer.

“If there is anything that should unite us at this moment, it is power. This is a national crisis and we must solve it as a collective,” Chasi said.

“We need a good mix of sources of power. We need wind, we need gas, and we need solar. The renewables are best and have international support.”

The fuel situation has, meanwhile, once again worsened, with long winding queues reappearing in the capital.

A survey conducted by NewsDay showed that supplies of both diesel and petrol have been inconsistent for the past two days.

Yesterday, some commuter omnibus operators were charging ZWL$3 up from ZWL$2, while Chitungwiza to City fares were pegged at ZWL$5, a sharp rise from ZWL$3.

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