Dark days ahead for Zim

accreditation

Several top Zanu-PF officials and cabinet ministers have been fingered for non-payment of electricity bills to the state-owned power utility, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa).

This is at a time when Mozambique has threatened to stop power exports to Zimbabwe until a $90 million (about R700 million) debt is settled.

Zimbabwe imports the bulk of its electricity supplies from Mozambique’s Hydro Cahorra Bassa, and Zimbabwe energy officials warned this week that should Mozambique go ahead with the pull out threats—“the country would be plunged into darkness”. Public anger has mounted over how Zanu-PF officials and ministers have been allowed until now to go scot-free by Zesa, when since last year the power utility had embarked on a nationwide campaign to switch off all defaulters.

Edward Chindori-Chininga, the chairperson of a parliamentary portfolio committee on mines and energy development, told City Press that “they (Zesa) go on to disconnect electricity from ordinary people who owe little money and can genuinely not afford to pay up and leave the influential people. It’s an unacceptable situation”.

A policy crafted by Zesa last year empowers it to switch off customers who owe as little as $30 in the townships and $40 for those living in the low-density suburbs.

Christopher Mushowe, the Zanu-PF-linked governor of Manicaland, reportedly owes Zesa $145 000, while Justin Mupamhanga, the secretary for the energy and power development ministry, owes $20 000. Cabinet ministers’ electricity bills are said to each range between $20 000 and $100 000, accrued mainly from activity on their farms, mines and private businesses.

In an effort to quell anger over the issue, Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma, read the riot act to the Zanu-PF bigwigs and cabinet ministers this week.

“There are some members of Parliament (MPs) and cabinet ministers who are not paying and we will be switching them off because there are no sacred cows and that is the only way we can stop people from accumulating huge debts to Zesa,” he said.

He added, “I have to warn my colleagues that unless they give clear proposals that are acceptable about how they are going to pay the debts, they are going to be switched off. I am also taking this opportunity to tell MPs who do not sit in cabinet that they will also be switched off”.

Zesa is owed $400 million by creditors and although it increased electricity charges last September to improve service delivery, it has not been able to meet the country’s power supplies—with load-shedding still a strong feature of Zimbabwean society.

Zimbabwe needs 2 200MW of electricity per month, but is currently generating only 1 200MW of electricity from its two main power stations in Hwange and Kariba.

An additional 300MW and 200MW are generated from the Bulawayo and Harare power stations. Since 2011 the energy ministry has invited bids to allow private investors to help boost energy capacity in the country, with a key deal between Chinese and Indian investors to upgrade the Kariba Power Station at an estimated cost of $1 billion yet to materialise.

In the meantime, in view of the country’s energy crisis Zesa has encouraged its consumers to change their lighting to the energy-saving fluorescent bulbs to reduce power consumption.


» Tell us what you think: Leave your comment below or comment on our Facebook page or on Twitter @City_Press
» Did you know? City Press has an iPad app. Find us in the app store

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Should pension fund members be allowed to access their savings before retirement?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, it's their money to do with as they please.
34% - 1961 votes
No, more people will end up without enough savings in retirement.
38% - 2140 votes
Depends on how big the withdrawal limits will be.
28% - 1589 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
14.52
-0.1%
Rand - Pound
20.22
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
17.17
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.73
+0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.1%
Gold
1,799.79
-0.3%
Silver
25.11
-0.2%
Palladium
2,656.93
+0.1%
Platinum
1,004.96
-0.4%
Brent Crude
71.29
+1.3%
Top 40
62,200
0.0%
All Share
68,371
0.0%
Resource 10
69,148
0.0%
Industrial 25
86,202
0.0%
Financial 15
13,560
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE