Zera defends ex-Eskom CEO awarding of licence for solar energy production

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By Anna Chibamu

THE Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority has defended its decision to award a solar producing licence to controversial former Eskom chief executive officer Matshela Koko.

Zera acting chief executive officer Eddington Mazambani told Parliament’s Energy and Power Development Portfolio Committee that the energy regulator undertook a due diligence procedure on Koko’s company adding his company has the financial ability to deliver.

“Due diligence was done in issuing the licence to Koko. He has capacity to deliver and is not a listed or convicted person. The applicant has the financial ability to deliver and produce the 100 MW of electricity.

“His technology or plant comes with ability to store power. Matshela ticked all boxes,” said Mazambani.

Mazambani castigated social media and other local newspapers for what he called false impression on Koko.

“We cannot do business based on newspapers and social media,” Mzambani added.

Last month, government announced Koko had been awarded a licence to establish a 100MW solar power plant in Gwanda, Matebeleland South.

In a notice dated July 17, 2019, Zera announced Koko, through his company Matshela Energy (Private) Limited, had been granted a licence to “construct, own, operate and maintain the 100 megawatt solar plant called Matshela Energy – Gwanda Timber Farm Solar Power Plant… for the purposes of generation and supply of electricity.”

Zimbabwe is experiencing severe power outages lasting up to 18 hours daily owing to depressed generation from hydro-powered Kariba Power Station and failing infrastructure at its other coal-powered power stations in Hwange.

Matshela left Eskom in a cloud of controversy after he was linked to irregular coal-supply deals awarded to companies linked to the Gupta brothers, the Indian businessmen at the centre of an influence-peddling scandal.

Zimbabwe has a power deficit of over 1500MW and has had to plead with South Africa to unlock fresh supplies on very stringent conditions.

Zesa is already having problems getting controversial businessman Wicknell Chivayo to deliver on a similar contract.