HARARE – Zimbabwe says it has finally paid US$10 million (R141m) to Eskom to unlock possibilities of getting additional power supplies from its southern neighbour as households, mining and industry sectors remain crippled by a worsening power deficit that is worsening.
Power outages have become the order of the day for troubled Zimbabwe and experts say this will result in plummeting economic performance in already struggling productive sectors. Zimbabwe’s power supply has been exacerbated by low water levels at Kariba Dam which feeds its hydropower plant as well as failure to settle arrears for power imports from Eskom and Mozambique’s Hydro Kahora Bassa.
Eskom issued a statement refuting pronouncements by Zimbabwe officials that they had paid the South African power utility as much as $10m in settlement of power import arrears. However, on Tuesday, Zimbabwe Energy Minister, Fortune Chasi acknowledged that it was not correct that the funds were released to Eskom last week.
He also confirmed that the $10m had been paid to Eskom yesterday. Zimbabwe has been struggling for foreign currency to settle foreign obligations such as electricity, medicines, wheat and petroleum products. Eskom is reportedly owed as much as $33 million by Zimbabwe.
Said Chasi on Tuesday via Twitter: “Zimbabweans, whilst we have paid $10 million, this is no guarantee for power. We need to negotiate.”
As the power outages have escalated, ordinary Zimbabwean workers who cannot afford to run diesel generators to sustain operations have resorted to working during the night when power is briefly restored. Energy Minister Fortune Chasi is pushing for government ministers, parastatals, powerful politicians and local authorities to be disconnected if they do not pay bills and accrued debts.
“Due to the insistent power cuts, we have been forced to trade within the highlighted hours during the load-shedding period. The complex will be running a generator during this period,” says Simbisa in a notice to customers at one of its complexes in Harare.
Lies have short legs. This is what I lied about. I am sorry. pic.twitter.com/7zjxUW8rFF— Fortune Chasi (@fortunechasi) July 2, 2019
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE