By Victor Fanuel
Despair, dejection and anxiety has gripped ordinary citizens as Zimbabwe appears to be heading for a gloomy, not-so-jolly holiday season marred by 10-16 hour power outages that have already dampened the ongoing World Cup frenzy.
Zimbabwe’s energy woes continue unabated, with the country failing to meet the country’s current 1700 megawatts daily demand, generating slightly more than 600 megawatts per day.
Speaking to the media about the energy crisis on Friday last week, energy minister Soda Zhemu dropped the bombshell that the Kariba power station would be completely shut down during the holidays.
The country’s largest coal-fired power station, Hwange Thermal Power Station, whose infrastructure had deteriorated over the years, has also proven to be unreliable, extinguishing the ray of hope for a joyous holiday.
Citizens who spoke to this publication expressed dissatisfaction with how the current energy crisis was affecting their socio-economic activities ahead of the holiday season.
Alex Mkandla, a Mufakose resident in the capital, expressed concern that the current energy crisis would increase criminal activity in his area.
“It is a tragic scenario that we are approaching the holiday season while experiencing lengthy nationwide blackouts at a time when we are planning to celebrate with our friends and family. If the current 12-hour blackouts continue until Christmas, our festive mood will be dampened.
“If these power outages continue without a viable solution, the result will be an increase in criminal activities because thieves thrive in the dark where they cannot be identified.”
“Food products that require refrigeration, such as meat, are also going bad, putting us in a difficult situation that has made us skeptical about this festive season,” Mkandla explained.
The current perpetual energy crisis is reminiscent of the 2005-7 era, when nationwide massive power outages ravaged the country, further depressing an already ailing economy.
Recently, industry leaders lamented how massive power outages were affecting production and processing activities.
Brave Mangoma, a local entrepreneur based in Craneborne, a Harare suburb, described how the current energy crisis was negatively impacting his broiler chicken business.
“Power outages are affecting broiler chicken feeding and growth, currently, we are experiencing 8-hour blackouts, so you lose about 54 hours with broiler chicks not feeding in a week.
“Which means when you reach the six week period, your broiler chicks will not have reached the required weight, and will not fetch a profitable payback given the funds and resources you would have invested.
“During the holiday season, the chicken business is usually profitable, however, given the persistent power outages, one will be forced to look for an alternative source of power, which raises the cost of production,” said Mangoma.
Arthur “Koko” Mumba, a Bulawayo-based entertainer and content creator, has urged the government to find a viable solution to the current energy crisis, which he charged was negatively impacting their social and economic activities.
“Massive power outages are affecting my productivity levels; low productivity means less income to fund my personal lifestyle as the holiday season approaches.
“The internet is the new streets. My business relies on being online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and prolonged power outages affecting the national grid mean that mobile subscribers experience frequent interruptions in network connectivity.
“My social relevance has been jeopardized, and we appeal to the government to intervene immediately so that we can have a joyous and profitable holiday season.”