By Matabeleland North Correspondent
ZIMBABWEANS have no choice but to expect higher electricity tariffs if power utility Zesa is to continue to be able to supply the commodity, Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube has said.
Ncube told a Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries forum in Victoria Falls recently that the pain citizens are going through, including high electricity tariffs, is necessary for the country to achieve its agenda 2030 for an upper middle income economy.
The Treasury chief however appealed to business to exercise restraint in increasing prices of commodities adding that government remains concerned about the effect on ordinary citizens.
“Government is cognisant of numerous operational challenges industry is facing including shortages of electricity, fuel and foreign currency among others. In addition, we should be prepared to pay a fair price which definitely entails an upward review of current tariff regime,” Ncube told captains of industry.
“I understand that while reforms entail pain and sacrifice, they are necessary if the country is to achieve its goal of an empowered and prosperous nation in line with vision 2030.”
Ncube urged consumers across the economy who owe Zesa to pay their bills.
“To address the shortage of electricity, government is urgently working on strategies which include engaging neighbouring countries with a view to increasing imports of electricity.
“However, as consumers, we should be honouring our obligations to ensure that Zesa has the resources to sustain the availability of the product.
“Government notes with concern the unjustified increase in prices and the three tier pricing structure in the market and urge players to exercise restraint in the review of prices to avoid rent seeking behaviour,” he said.
Government, according to Ncube, is also seriously considering renewable energy sources such as solar with special incentives such as duty waivers on imported solar equipment to be introduced while making it mandatory for all new construction projects to be solar powered.
Zimbabwe is facing its worst power crisis with citizens forced to endure 18 hour load-shedding schedules daily, something that has impacted negatively on already depressed industrial production.
Zesa owes the South African power utility Eskom almost US$30 million after having paid US$10 million received from government, and another US$40 million to Mozambique’s Hydro Cabora Bassa.
The two neighbouring countries have since stopped power supplies to Zimbabwe with Energy Minister Fortune Chasi currently shuttling between Harare, Johannesburg and Maputo pleading for fresh imports.