© THE country owes US$83 million to Mozambique’s Hidroeléctrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) and South Africa’s Eskom, which is hampering government efforts to get fresh supply of power, Energy minister Fortune Chasi has said.
This comes at a time when the country is grappling with power challenges, a development which has seen Zesa Holdings(Zesa) introducing a punishing load-shedding schedule which is significantly affecting production.
Speaking to journalists at a post-Cabinet briefing, Chasi said the power challenges now required people to work together as a country and pay their electricity bills as well as cut on unnecessary use of power.
“We owe HCB and Eskom $83 million. As for Eskom, we are currently getting 50 megawatts from them and if we settle our arrears, we can unlock 400 megawatts or more from them. In the event that an investor wants to invest in solar, wind or gas or other means of power generation, Zesa must have the capacity to pay the investor.
“Let’s focus on reducing the deficit and also create a congenial environment for investors to come and develop other sources of power,” Chasi said.
The country’s power supply has been significantly affected by the low water levels in the country’s main water body, Kariba Dam.
Chasi said Zesa was owed RTGS$1,2 billion by local companies, individuals and local authorities.
He said government had offered to pay at least $20 million, which is only a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed.
The Energy minister said the generality of Zimbabweans owe between $300 and $400 million to the power utility.
“If push comes to shove, we may disclose a list of people that owe Zesa. The bottom line is when you consume a service you must pay. This has nothing to do with who you are. Zesa is a business and when you consume electricity, you must pay.
“We would like to stop the bleeding at Zesa. Our own power consumption has to be monitored and changed to sync with our situation. Ministries should install meters and be accountable for the power they consume. If we don’t manage our consumption, we will be destroying Zesa and ourselves,” Chasi said.
The power company has previously dragged some government and Zanu PF officials to court over electricity debts involving huge sums of money.
Some of them include Transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza, who owed $97 000, Zanu PF politburo member Sydney Sekeramayi, who owed $327 481, former Zanu PF Mbare Constituency MP Tendai Savanhu, who owed $19 000 and Zanu PF Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba, who owed $43 716.
Seven years ago, the Daily News’ Zesagate unearthed massive electricity bills owed by several bigwigs, who included former president Robert Mugabe.
Zesagate, one of the biggest scandals to rock the country in decades, was unearthed by the Daily News in 2012 and revealed that at the time the power utility was on a nationwide power disconnections campaign against defaulting consumers in domestic, commercial and industrial categories.