No quick solution to power crisis

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By Leopold Munhende

ZIMBABWEANS will have to endure the current power crisis as government has indicated that there is no quick solution to the crisis.

Energy Minister Fortune Chasi told a post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare, Tuesday that water levels at the country’s major electricity plant Lake Kariba has gone down to its lowest level ever while State power supplier ZESA is owed $1.2 billion by local users.

“We need to deal with the issue of debts, foreign and local, ZESA despite our complaints as users is owed $1.2 billion by local consumers. We can play games about this issue but if there is an issue that requires us to be together as a nation, it is power.

“It is a difficult situation, we need to enable coal miners to supply the coal to thermals, they need diesel, they are agitating for a price increase on coal, if we do that it will impact on Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC),” said Chasi.

“There is no quick solution to this, Kariba has gone down to 29%, none of us here can make water to fill it up to 100%, what we can only do is plan.

“We have seen what is happening at Kariba and as a country we need to ensure that there is investment in other areas and sources.”

Zimbabwe is currently experiencing one of its worst power crises mainly due to the low water levels after a less than impressive rainfall season.

Citizens have had to go for up to 15 hours without power with ZESA indicating it is implementing level 2 loadshedding.

Chasi said that they will only manage to get more power if they service their external debts with the highest amount owed to South African power company Eskom at US$83 million.

Zimbabwe needs a projected 2400 MW of power per day but was producing just over 1.000 before the current challenges.

The country was surviving on imports from Mozambique and South Africa.

“I engaged with the Minister of Finance today and he indicated that $20 million was going to be given to ZESA, it is a significant amount but in the scheme of things it is a drop in the ocean,” the Energy Minister said.

Chasi pleaded with ZESA creditors to ensure that they pay so that the power utility could finance its operations.

He avoided naming some of the company’s major creditors, choosing to say that it was not a political issue but rather a cultural one which has seen Zimbabweans ignore the importance of paying their bills while retaining large amounts in mobile phone credit and data.

Chasi said he will be meeting his Zambian counterpart this Friday in a bid to find new sources of power.