By Leopold Munhende
TROUBLED power utility Zesa has sourced US$15 million from a local bank to unlock fresh 400MW power supplies from South Africa’s Eskom, Cabinet said on Tuesday.
Acting Minister of Energy Sekai Nzenza, told a post Cabinet media briefing that it is hoped that the payment coming weeks after government paid another US$10 million could unlock negotiations for supplies.
“The Zimbabwe Electricity Tariff Distribution (ZETDC) has engaged a local bank to the tune of US$15 million guaranteed to unlock supply of 400MW from Eskom.
“At the same time ZETDC, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and Eskom have agreed on a payment plan,” said Nzenza.
“These initiatives that have been put in place will enable us to have more power.”
According to Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa who addressed the same press conference negotiations with Eskom were still underway and no definite position could be shared just yet.
Reports indicate that Eskom has maintained that Zimbabwe, represented by Energy Minister Fortune Chasi and senior Zesa management in South Africa, pays its debt in full before negotiating for a new deal.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has also entered the fray in trying to find a solution to the country’s power problems that have hit industry and citizens hard with an 18hr power-shedding schedule currently underway.
Mnangagwa has met South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa and Mozambique Philipe Nyusi in a bid to facilitate fresh power supplies.
Zesa also owes Mozambique’s Hydro Cabora Bass nearly US$40 million and the US$15 million will mean the power utility will still have about US$10 million outstanding to Eskom of South Africa.
Zesa’s Small Thermal Stations in Harare, Munyati and Hwange are producing 42MW against an achievable capacity of 60MW according to officials.
Kariba Power Station which at full capacity produces 1 039MW, is producing 461MW leaving shortfall of 582MW.
The country’s electricity demand stands at 1 400MW according to Energy Ministry statistics, lower than the 2 200MW reported.
Zimbabwe is facing one of its worst power crises that has plunged the country into darkness and pushing industrial production to the brink.
Some industries have resorted to working through the night from around 10pm when electricity is switched on to around 5am when it is switched off.
Government does not have statistics of how much is being lost due to the power shortage.