via Mavhaire gets Mugabe backing | The Financial Gazette by Phillimon Mhlanga 31 Oct 2013
ENERGY and Power Development Minister, Dzikamai Mavhaire has no obligation to be bound by former minister, Elton Mangoma’s plan to unbundle power utility, ZESA Holdings.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, George Charamba who also doubles up as President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson revealed this when asked by the Financial Gazette to comment on the President’s position on the matter this week.
“In the first place, who was behind all this? Wasn’t it Mangoma and his MDC-T?” asked Charamba.
“Therefore, Mavhaire has no obligation to be bound by Mangoma and his MDC-T’s agenda to unbundle ZESA. It all happened when we were under an inclusive government which had its own contradictions but what the President did was just to allow the Bill to lapse by way of not assenting to it within the stipulated 21 days.”
“The minister (Mavhaire) has the backing of the President and I think he has done well by demanding the return of the Electricity Amendment Act, which was gazetted this month.”
“If there is anyone who still has some issues regarding this, the matter has to go back to Parliament but I don’t think there is anyone with the appetite to take it back to Parliament.”
Prominent Harare lawyer, Farai Nyamayaro, said the procedure being followed by Mavhaire was legally correct.
“Yes, the Electricity Amendment Act has been gazetted but the fact that it had no date (when) it should take effect means that it’s reversible,” said Nyamayaro.
“The intention was to amend the Electricity Act but as it is at the moment, it’s not yet part of the Electricity Act.
“No one can cry foul because the procedure being pursued is perfectly in order,” said Nyamayaro.
Last week, Mavhaire said his ministry would not allow the unbundling of ZESA even after the Electricity Amendment Act (No. 5 of 2013) was gazetted on October 18, 2013.
He said the proposed amendment was not consistent with government policy and the ZANU-PF manifesto.
Clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma, has since written to the Registrar of the High Court and Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet demanding the return of the Electricity Amendment Act 2013.
“The Clerk of Parliament (Zvoma) is the administrative person of the august House and what he has done is above board and it’s lawful,” Nyamayaro added.
Another prominent lawyer, Jonathan Samkange, who is a Member of Parliament for Mudzi, concurred with Nyamayaro, saying: “The minister can recall the Amendment Act since it had no fixed date of commencement. Gazetting it is simply to notify the public that some sections of the Electricity Act are being repealed.
“He (Mavhaire) may recall it because he may want to look at it or he may re-introduce it in Parliament for amendments.”
The Electricity Amendment Bill was passed by Parliament in July before being sent for Presidential assent, which was granted after the mandatory 21 days had lapsed.
The Act sought to repeal Section 68 of the Electricity Act (Chapter 13:19), which was to be replaced with a new section that would have paved way for the formation of one or more companies which could have been the successor companies to ZESA.
The restructuring was to make ZESA more efficient and responsive to customers while at the same time setting up mechanism to make it easy for Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to have a level playing field.
More than 15 IPPs have been licenced by the energy sector regulator, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority, to generate and transmit electricity.
They have the capacity to generate over 5 000 megawatts (MW) of electricity and are expected to complement the State-owned power utility, ZESA, which is currently struggling to meet electricity demand of about 2200MW at peak times.
The Act would have effectively meant that ZESA Holdings unbundles for the third time in 16 years after similar processes in 1997 and in 2002 into the National Grid Services Company (NGSC), a 100 percent government-owned company responsible for transmission, marketing and system operation.
NGSC was to inherit ZESA’s legacy debts reported to be over US$400 million, some of it was incurred before the first restructuring in 1997.
The amended electricity law would have enabled the transfer of legacy debts from each of ZESA’s subsidiaries, which include the electricity generation company, Zimbabwe Power Company, investment unit, ZESA Enterprises and the internet services provider, Powertel Communications.
The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company would have transformed to the Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company responsible for the distribution of electricity.
According to the restructuring blueprint, the companies were to report to the Ministry of Energy and Power Development.
Now that the unbundling process is no longer taking place, the holding company, ZESA Holdings will continue to make overall decisions for the subsidiaries.