ENERGY and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi is talking tough on Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) Holdings board appointment as he seeks to undo previous cherry-picking of acquaintances by selecting a competent team to steer the ship.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA IN SUN CITY, SOUTH AFRICA
Barely a month after his appointment on the current portfolio, Chasi sacked the power utility board saying he wanted “people who appreciate the urgency of the situation we are in”.
The pertinence of the Zesa board is informed by the fact that the country is saddled with a debilitating power crisis that lasts up to 18 hours, hurting the economy.
Officiating at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (Icaz) winter school on Friday, Chasi said there would be no room for nepotism in the process of appointing the Zesa board, saying he would ensure a strong team of proficient personnel was appointed.
“When I fired the board, in fact, I did not fire them. I assisted them out. Some of you started to say he now wants to put his relatives. I am not about that! If you want a utility that is professional, the board needs a good mix of skills — engineers, information and technology experts, law and human resources. In fact, we also need just a consumer who will not speak anything technical, but just updating on the load shedding timetable as it is happening in the suburbs.”
“For all the boards, I am having so many people coming to my inbox, wanting me to appoint them. I am not going to do that. Am setting up a panel of reputable people in our country that will give you the confidence that we are doing the proper thing. They will do interviews and then recommend. We will also look into gender parity. It’s a lie that there are no competent women. I am looking to a day when we have more women on a board than men.”
While the country is suffering serious load shedding with no quick fix in sight, government envisages to generate 11 500 megawatts of electricity by 2030.
As of Friday, power generation was 823MW against a suppressed demand of 1 800MW.
The southern African nation is covering the deficit through imports from neighbouring South Africa’s Eskom and Mozambique’s HCB.
Zimbabwe’s installed capacity is 1 900MW, split as: Kariba (1 039MW), Hwange (750MW), Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare thermal stations (60MW) and Independent Power Producers (15MW).
Chasi said there were certain elements who were approaching him for preferential treatment in the awarding of tenders, but he was rebuffing them.
“Zera has all the responsibilities to do with power and petroleum, and the minister’s role is limited to general policy directives. So, I cannot go to Zera and say give my friend a licence. I have some people coming to my office, saying as a group you must give us tenders. I am not into tenders. I don’t have that power and they hate me for that. It is better to be hated, then,” he said.