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Minister ‘In Dark’ Over Load Shedding

Energy Minister, Soda Zhemu Wednesday told Parliament that he is not sure when the current load shedding will end as he gave a gloomy picture of the state of equipment being used to generate electricity at the Hwange power station.

The country has been facing extensive power cuts in the last two weeks which has adversely affected business operations and has seen a shortage in gas for home use.

Responding to parliamentarians’ questions, Zhemu said the situation is likely to worsen due to the dilapidated equipment.

“We would not know these interventions because currently, we are working on aged equipment,” Zhemu said.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that ZESA is in need of US$2,5 billion to end load shedding as the country grapples with subdued local power generation.

In the AG’s 2020 report For Appropriation Accounts Finance Accounts Revenue Statements and Fund Account, Zesa had foreign debts of US$1,1 billion in the form of interest on outstanding loans advanced to the power utility by the government.

In its 2019 State Enterprises and Parastatals report, following the reintroduction of the Zimbabwean dollar, the auditor general found Zesa’s current liabilities exceeded its current assets by ZW$3,2 billion (US$22,6 million). This was from 2018 comparative of ZW$1,5 billion (US$10,5 million).

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For the year 2019, the group also posted an operating loss before tax of ZW$2,3 billion (US$16,1 million), meaning over the past few years the company has been struggling to stay afloat.

Further, Zesa is owed over ZW$15 billion (US$105 million) by consumers over non-payment of electricity services by the debtors in the industry and the government.

Zhemu said he can only give assurance when Hwange Power Station is up and running, that is Unit 7 and Unit 8.

“That is when we will have self-sufficiency from internal generation.”

He added; “… on the expansion of the power station, there are two units which will be coming through; one by the end of this year, that is unit 7 which will be producing 300 megawatts. “We will also have another unit, unit 8 coming through in the first quarter of 2023. We will also see the rehabilitation of the Hwange power station which is now very old.

“The intention is to bring it back to its installed capacity of 900 megawatts.”

The country generates an estimated 1,300 megawatts against an installed capacity of 2,240 megawatts owing to ageing equipment and frequent breakdowns at power plants.

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