via Mavhaire — ill-qualified, clueless – DailyNews Live 19 MARCH 2014
Dzikamai Mavhaire is one of the most ill-qualified ministers ever to be appointed by President Robert Mugabe to head such a crucial portfolio.
Since his appointment to the ministry of Energy and Power Development last year, there has been increased load-shedding. He has a tall order to improve the power situation which had drastically improved before he came in.
Although his ministry is critical to industry and economic recovery, Mavhaire appears clueless, raising questions as to what qualities Mugabe saw in him when he appointed him to run the Energy portfolio.
The pint-sized politician, who made headlines in the 90s when he publicly told Mugabe to resign and pave way for others, was relegated to the political dustbins and reduced to a vendor in Masvingo where he was selling fruits at Mucheke Bus Terminus with a ramshackle vehicle that often needed a push to start.
At a time the economy is receding into deflation and power woes are increasing by the day, it boggles the mind why Mugabe chose someone who was struggling with a small farm a few kilometres outside Masvingo town to lead a principal portfolio of Energy.
To his credit, the honest minister this week admitted that he has no answers to the current load-shedding woes.
“Is the nation going to have adequate power to implement programmes under the ZimAsset?
“I cannot answer this question with a resounding yes, as I will not be truthful to you. What I can say is the situation will have drastically improved by 2018,” Mavhaire told students at Zimbabwe Staff College on Monday.
If a minister who is tasked with bringing revival in the energy sector has no answer and plans to restore power supply in the country, then what are his duties?
Most households and industries in Zimbabwe are limited to less than 18 hours of electricity supply daily because of lack of investment in power generation since Independence.
Only about 30 percent of the country has access to grid electricity.
No new power generation stations have been built in the country since Kariba in the early 1960s and Hwange thermal power station, which was completed in 1986.
Despite advances in technology, power experts say a lead time of up to five years is needed to build a power station.
The current power shortage stems from a failure by government to implement numerous power generation projects.
The famed Batoka deal is yet to materialise, while Kariba South Extension and Hwange projects are yet to take shape.
Questions have been raised about how government, through Mavhaire, will be able to increase power generation to meet increased demand by industry, when the utility is failing to meet demand while industry is operating at below 40 percent capacity.
In the region, most countries also experiencing power deficits making it more difficult for Zimbabwe to import power when the country is experiencing a liquidity crunch.
At full capacity, Kariba generates 750 megawatts and Hwange 850 megawatts, but the country needs about 2 100 megawatts. About 1 200 megawatts are being generated at the moment.
Zimbabwe’s hope for resuscitating the manufacturing sector and regaining its international competitiveness lies in it finding adequate electricity supplies, a dream we all share.
However, while holding on to our dream, we are obliged to ask government:
Does Mavhaire have the necessary skill and intellectual muscle to privatise Zesa Holdings (Zesa)?
The parastatal has been haemorrhaging for a long time and is teetering on the brink of insolvency.
Zesa, like many other struggling state-owned enterprises such as Air Zimbabwe and NetOne, has always been grossly undercapitalised, poorly managed and surviving only because of government funding.
Worldwide, there has been a massive transfer of ownership and control over electricity assets from the public to private companies.
The companies that have taken over electricity provision in most countries are multinational companies with the financial muscle to make things work.
But when he took office, Mavhaire claimed there would not be any privatisation of the struggling parastatal any time soon.
So how do we move from the current load shedding, because Zesa has proved it does not have the capital and the will to reform on its own.
It is a fact that solving our energy problem will solve a host of other problems, and is a key to Zimbabwe’s economic recovery and growth.