Candid Comment: Power cuts biggest setback to development

ZIMBABWE has a rickety electricity grid. The power supply is simply unreliable; if that is not an understatement. Prolonged load-shedding lasting up to between 18 and 20 hours daily is untenable.

Across the Limpopo, South Africans complain of six hour rolling blackouts. That’s a better scenario compared to Zimbabwe where consumers, manufacturers, miners, retailers and workers are battling the acute power shortages.

The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) announced that the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) could no longer generate power at Lake Kariba due to low water levels.

Before the crisis, ZPC was warned. Instead, the Zesa Holdings management turned the proverbial deaf ear.

Now the nation is paying a heavy cost for the mismanagement by Zesa.

Energy and Power Development minister Zhemu Soda has failed to calm market jitters.

Similarly, the Zesa executive chairperson Sydney Gata is no longer as vociferous. These two officials living on taxpayers’ money must be held to account.

The nation needs lasting solutions to the power crisis. If they have failed, as they are now, it’s only noble for both Gata and Soda to resign and give others a chance.

Gata, a former Zesa chairperson, has failed in his previous tenure during the late Robert Mugabe era.

He is from a generation that is supposed to be enjoying pension benefits. If he failed before, Gata cannot succeed now.

Zesa needs new leadership which can draft innovative ways of harnessing renewable energy sources to feed the national grid.

Soda, on the other hand, has no track record in handling energy supplies. The man was thrown at the deep end. He is clueless. His ignorance in tackling power supply is making every Zimbabwean pay. The nation is living in the dark. It’s a dark nation.

But Zimbabweans will endure the pains of a power crisis until many workers are laid off because companies cannot sustain high costs of diesel powered generators and solar systems.  

Under this column, I have endlessly implored authorities to quickly implement renewable energy alternatives. There are several international firms with a capacity of setting up solar farms but there are complications for some of the companies to get land.

Disappointingly, most of the land is just lying idle and lands officers under the Agriculture and Lands ministry are sleeping on duty. Maybe these officers have other reasons known to themselves to deliberately stall the projects.

Dear President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the allocation of land for solar farms must be investigated and establish why capable companies are denied offer letters. Those without the technical and financial muscle to implement the key projects are holding licences, mainly for speculative purposes. This needs to be addressed, urgently.

The dark nation cannot take it anymore.

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