The local electricity situation has been and still continues to be dire in the majority of the country. The average duration that most places now enjoy electricity is now roughly 8 hours per day. The fact that these 8 hours tend to be during normal sleeping hours makes the ordeal even worse. So in the past few days, there have been some interesting developments pertaining to the power utility ZESA. Stories ranging from false claims to damning revelations cited in the Auditor-General’s report. Thus I thought to take some time to discuss some of them in this article.
The Eskom Story – What Really Happened?
Just a few days ago we saw a news headline “Government pays Eskom, ZESA debts”. Then on Friday, the 28th of June Eskom issued a media statement refuting that as false. Eskom’s CEO categorically stated that no funds had been received which of course sent social media streets into a frenzy.
Advocate Fortune Chasi, the energy minister had to ultimately apologize for the undressing incident where the government lied about making payments to Eskom. The government had indicated that it had paid Eskom some money to pay off some arrears. Actually, the minister had stated to the public that the government had paid RTGS$20 million to ZESA. Then he also said USD10 million had been paid to Eskom.
After some silence on Twitter, the minister came out putting the blame for the false story on Treasury. He said that the finance minister Mthuli Ncube was the one who had informed him that payment had been made. So all in all minister Chasi said that the misinformation lies squarely on the finance minister and the RBZ governor. The rationale he explained was that he had trusted what they had told him as true. So again it’s also disturbing that such lack of coordination is displayed in such high offices.
Most people felt that the minister was supposed to have received confirmation of the development in writing. This would have been better rather than just relying on a verbal piece of information. However, the minister pointed out that he had acted on what he had been told since he believed it was true. The minister also expressed confidence that the payment would go through. Minister Chasi on Monday the first of July showing proof of payment which had been processed on the 1st of July.
It Has Also Emerged That Governments Departments Weren’t Metered All Along
Energy minister Advocate Jasi has brought to the public startling information. He tweeted almost an hour into yesterday (30 June 2019) saying that government ministries will now be metered. He indicated that his ministry was actually running point on this and is already being metered. The only huge concern here is that this means all along government ministries were using electricity like confetti. This actually reminds me of the USD1.2 billion that was once highlighted as being owed to ZESA. It now makes sense why government departments were cited as ones responsible by being the biggest contributors to that debt. It wasn’t clear whether or not these would be prepaid meters but they better be because that’s the best way forward.
Astounding Auditor-General Report Details On ZESA
So there’s a recent Auditor General’s report that has brought about some really shocking details. One of the most remarkable ones is that of 3 aeroplanes that aren’t accounted for at Air Zimbabwe. This is just one of the damning report details and ZESA also made the cut into the report. Sometime in 2019, it’s said that ZESA made a USD4.9 million payment to Pito Investments for transformers. Despite the payment, not even one transformer was delivered. The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPS) made a USD560 000 payment to Pito Investments again but no delivery of purchased equipment was made. The immediate thought that comes to my mind is whether or not this Pito Investments exists or is just a charade. Then in 2016 ZPS made a payment of R196 064 to York International for gas and again nothing was delivered. So this really is just a tip of the iceberg as to the shady things that have been rocking the power utility company.
Apparently, there’s a lot that needs to be done to rectify the issues rattling the power utility ZESA. Clearly, it’s more than just an issue of decreasing water levels at Kariba Dam; it’s way more than that. I personally believe the electricity situation in the country can be effectively dealt with without even worrying about water levels at Kariba Dam. Corruption is the major rot that standing in the way of most of the possible solutions that can be implemented.