Government negotiating 400MW relief deal with Eskom

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By Leopold Munhende

GOVERNMENT is negotiating for a 400MW electricity relief deal with South Africa’s Eskom as a short term solution to the current power crisis.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube last week promised that government would settle local power supplier Zesa’s US$10 million debt with Eskom and reports this week said Treasury had honoured its commitment.

Zimbabwe has been struggling with crippling power shortages after water levels at Kariba dropped drastically following a poor rainfall season as well as breakdowns at Hwange Power Station.

Energy Minister Fortune Chasi told a post-Cabinet media briefing Wednesday, that government was working on stop-gap measures to avert the crisis that has resulted in up to 15 hours of load shedding across the country.

“The payment of the US$10 million to Eskom is really the short term measure that we can take to ensure that we have sufficient power and also that we address the load shedding which is at the moment causing a lot of hardships to the public.

“I am not at the moment in a position to say what we are going to get from Eskom, we are engaged with them, we have made a significant payment and we should be getting some relief from that quarter,” said Chasi.

“If we are going to get about 400MW, that would be very good because it is going to deal with the spike in consumption that we experience daily.”

The Energy Minister also revealed that government had paid Zesa some RTGS$10 million as part of efforts to settle its debt with the power utility.

Chasi last week urged Zesa clients including government and senior politicians to pay settle their bills in order to allow the struggling power utility to operate optimally.

Zimbabwe is also engaging Mozambique to get power from Cahora Bassa following President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Ncube’s engagement with officials from the country’s eastern neighbour as efforts to deal with crippling power shortages increase.

Government has also set in motion an ambitious project to install solar panels on selected roofs of buildings in the country so as to cut them from the main Zesa grid during the day.