Hotels in tourist resorts to pay for electricity in forex

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By Leopold Munhende

LARGE Hotels in the Victoria Falls will soon be made to pay electricity bills in foreign currency to improve beleaguered power utility Zesa’s capacity to import energy, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa has said.

Mutsvangwa was addressing journalists at a post-Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday.

“To alleviate the situation on the power supply front, Cabinet resolved as follows: to endorse the arrangement whereby large Hotels in the Victoria Falls resort town can pay their Zesa bills in foreign currency so as to boost capacity to import power supplies,” said Mutsvangwa.

“Cabinet also wishes to advise the nation that discussions with Eskom (South Africa’s power utility) are continuing, with a view to unlocking power supplies imports therefrom.”

Energy Minister Fortune Chasi refuted claims that the move could be in violation of SI142 which bans the use of the US$ in local transactions and introduced the local unit as the sole legal tender in the country.

Zimbabwe is currently battling to deal with one of its worst power crises in recent years which has not been made easier by Zesa’s accruing debts to its Mozambican and South African counterparts.

Zesa, which recently paid US$10 million to Eskom, still owes the South African parastatal and Mozambique’s Hydro Cahora Bassa a combined US$83 million.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has already had discussions with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Mozambique’s Philipe Nyusi to try and broker a deal for fresh power imports.

Low water levels at Kariba Hydro Power Station and subdued production at its Hwange plant have resulted in 15-hour load shedding schedules across the country with worse expected.

Cabinet received an update on the Batoka Hydro Project which is expected to add a combined 2.400MW to the Zambian and Zimbabwean grid.

Added Mutsvangwa: “Cabinet received with satisfaction, the progress made on the 2 400 MW Batoka Hydro Project, where China Power and General Electronic were recently awarded the tender for the project.”