Reality check for Mnangagwa as speech is hit by power outage

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa Thursday came face to face with reality after he was forced to temporarily stop engaging captains of industry at the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) conference in Victoria Falls due to a power blackout.

Zimbabweans have had to endure up to 15 hours of electricity load-shedding due to low generation levels at Kariba, breakdowns at Hwange Power Station and Zesa’s failure to pay its regional suppliers such as South Africa’s Eskom.

Mnangagwa, who was guest speaker, had just completed his speech and preparing to respond to questions from conference delegates when suddenly there was a blackout.

The venue was plunged into pitch darkness and for almost a dozen minutes, protocol and security personnel had to open curtains and blinds to usher in natural light into the conference room.

Mnangagwa sat quietly in his chair while the master of ceremonies and former ZNCC president Luxon Zembe tried to lighten up the mood by cracking jokes.

“Engineer (Patrick) Chivaura, where are you? Can you sort this out please,” said Zembe.

Zembe continued talking for minutes until power was restored.

Chivaura is Zesa’s acting chief executive officer and is attending the conference.

He however was not in the conference room when power was cut-off.

On Wednesday, the Zesa boss had appealed to industry leaders for investments in energy arguing the country has a deficit of over 700 MW.

When power was restored, Zembe joked: “Now I can stop talking your Excellency (Mnangagwa), so you respond to issues raised.”

In his speech earlier, President Mnangagwa had also invited the private sector to invest in the country, especially in the energy sector.

Mnangagwa was as a result of the power outage, forced to cancel his scheduled evening flight to Bulawayo.

The President only left the resort town early Friday where he was expected to meet traditional leaders from the Midlands and the Matabeleland provinces.