Total blackout ahead of SADC summit

via Total blackout ahead of SADC summit -NewZimbabwe 28 April 2015

IT couldn’t have happened at a worse time: with a SADC summit underway and an international arts festival about to kick off, Zimbabwe was hit by a countrywide blackout on Monday night.

Power flicked off around 19:45-and in some parts of the country was only restored about 04:00 on Tuesday. Reports said neighbouring Zambia also suffered a blackout.

Zimbabwe’s state Zesa power authority chief executive Josh Chifamba told state media that the main Hwange and Kariba power stations went down “because of a disturbance on the interconnected system”, the state media.

Zimbabweans are used to frequent cuts after years of power shortages. But the first inkling that this was something more serious than regular “load-shedding” came on social media.

Journalist Nqaba Matshazi tweeted: “Looks like a massive blackout in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Couldn’t be a worse timing. SADC meeting, Trade Fair and HIFA [Harare International Festival of the Arts, which begins on Tuesday].

Even the state ZBC broadcaster stopped broadcasting.

Business mogul Nigel Chanakira tweeted: “Ordinarily tho in Zim a national power blackout does not [cause] a blackout of our broadcasting services. Somebody asleep @ d wheel”

Guests in the plush Rainbow Towers Hotel in central Harare used cellphones and torches to find their way around, the Herald newspaper said.

Parts of the second city of Bulawayo were spared because their supplies come from South Africa’s Eskom.

Residents of Mutare, on Zimbabwe’s eastern border with Mozambique, told News24 they heard loud bangs, likely from a nearby electricity substation.

Chifamba told the Herald: “We are yet to establish the real cause but I have been speaking to my counterparts in Zambia who indicated that they were experiencing the same problem.”

Some Zimbabweans woke up to no power on Tuesday morning. It was not immediately clear if this was because of a scheduled outage or because the fault that caused Monday’s blackout had not been totally fixed.

@QFYvonne tweeted: “Today it’s business as usual.. that is.. no power.. as usual.”

The blackout is likely to prove an embarrassment to the authorities, who are keen to present a positive and united front to international visitors to cash-strapped Zimbabwe this week.

Hundreds of performers and art and music-lovers are expected to fly in from the region for Hifa alone. Regional heads of state will meantime be meeting for the SADC summit on industrialisation on Wednesday.

But ministers and other officials are already in Zimbabwe. Unconfirmed reports say some SADC officials were briefly trapped in a lift in a well-known hotel in Harare on Saturday during a previous blackout.

The Zimbabwe International Trade Fair kicks off on Tuesday in Bulawayo.

“Its visibility and mileage for local businesses that’s at stake here,” economist Morris Mpala told a local state newspaper. “This is the right time to invest and bring about business partners for future growth.”

If Monday’s blackout is anything to go by, not everyone will agree.


  • comment-avatar
    Thomas Armstrong 7 years ago

    Well done to Josh Chifamba and his merry men you managed to restore power with out major damage to equipment, it is a difficult job and now all is normal again.

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    Malcolm 7 years ago

    Talk about Elton John’s song ” Candle in the Wind”– pretty well sums up Zimbabwe’s power situation. Sydney ( Australia) suffered a cyclone with flooding here this month, trees down on poles,cars houses, some people drowned– very serious. My neighbour returned from a business trip there yesterday, and advised all was up and running again. I know some will say Australia is a first world country.
    Zimbabwe was well placed to enjoy first world services– but– but– but– I think you know the reason for failure, so9 won’t insult your intelligence.

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    wonder 7 years ago

    l don’t know if what is happening in my area is happening everywhere else in the country about ZESA operations. If indeed it is then no wonder why this parastatal is always struggling. l live in Chegutu in one of the high density surbubs. There is another location which houses Zesa employees as well as many other houses, infact its quite a big area. My worry is in that area electricity is never affected. l know ZESA employees have an allowance as part of their benefit. Everyone else is buying electricity which is much needed revenue for the concern. So how is ZESA going to make the needed revenue when their employees manipulate the system to their advantage and enjoy electricity flow 24/7 when prepaid users get it for a very few hours. of course its insignificant on a small scale but l know if its the practice country wide then it becomes a big worry. How is ZESA going to make the profits when there is no loss control.

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    Rwendo 7 years ago

    In my area, in the northern suburbs of Harare, daily shedding has become normal for the last 2-3 weeks, except on Sundays and sometimes Saturday. And yet pre-paid meters were installed in most houses after an exercise last year. There are adjacent suburbs that do not experience shedding. When I have called to ask why, I am told there are some “strategic” neighbourhoods for which read having a common supply with a line supplying some vital installation/premises (understandable) or some important chefs (usually not paying bills, not understandable).

    Unless Zesa is managing to sell electricity at higher rates outside the country (hard to imagine), I too do not understand how they intend to make money. Perhaps someone can educate me.

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    Petal 7 years ago

    Serve Southern African Dictators Club right do not pity them they are not there for the ordinary people -blackouts should continue

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    grabmore 7 years ago

    I can educate you, Rwendo. ZESA exports power to our neighbours who pay nicely on time and that money is diverted to private use. The new prepaid meters are more tricky because they record actual usage vs money prepaid.

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    There should be no mystery – one phone call to the National Control Centre should answer the query.

    My guess is that once again it is incompetence and/or lack of maintenance.

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    msana we ngombe 7 years ago

    Irrelevant comments. A fault on the grid will obviously result in generators in power plants tripping to isolate the fault. Its not all faults which are a result of incompetence or lack of maintenance, chances of faults occuring are always there maintenance or no maintenance. Maintenance minimises faults but doesnot completely eliminate them.