Blackouts intensify after poll

HARARE - Zimbabwe has been experiencing worsening electricity load-shedding in the wake of a disputed presidential election that saw President Robert Mugabe re-elected for an seventh term.

While the power utility say the gap between generation and demand has resulted in a shortfall, ordinary citizens suspect the intensifying power cuts could be a political statement to protest the impending debt write-off of outstanding electricity bills.

For the past two weeks, Zimbabweans have been hit hard by rolling power cuts which have also crippled industrial production.

In a statement, Zesa dismissed as baseless suggestions the ongoing massive power cuts are a trick to sabotage the economy after a Zanu PF win.

“To ensure the smooth running of elections, Zesa Holdings requested and received additional electricity support from the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and some of these utilities had to defer their own maintenance in order to accommodate our position,” the statement said.

“This support however, cannot be sustained in the long-term due to power shortage in their own countries. This support enabled the power utility to effect very minimal load-shedding during election period. Complementing this was an improved performance at Hwange Power Station.”

However, the situation has since changed since “imports were reduced because sister utilities needed to undertake maintenance that had been deferred.”

“The situation is being further compounded by depressed reduced imports due to plant maintenance from Hydro Caborra Bassa. Maintenance at HCB is scheduled to be completed on Thursday August 15, 2013 after which supplies are expected to improve if the exercise is completed as scheduled.”

Precious Shumba, director of Harare Residents Trust (HRT) said residents were outraged by the power cuts, which authorities have attributed to the ongoing maintenance work.

“Zesa officials have indicated that they had been receiving electricity from their sister electricity organisations in the region but this was only to cover the period up to elections, and this arrangement was over,” said Shumba.

With the country slowly emerging from the watershed elections, won by Mugabe, Shumba says there is an air of uncertainty among residents who have been left guessing as to the causes of the nightmarish blackouts.

In a fulfilment of Zanu PF pre-election promise, local authorities slashed water bills and was also looking to cancel power bills as promised by vice president Joice Mujuru.

“Residents want clarity on this situation from Zesa, which they have promised,” Shumba said.

“We hope this does not get worse. Our major concern is that the debt cancellation initiative which has been announced as a proposal by vice president Joice Mujuru should be undertaken with consideration of the electricity suppliers, who are foreigners, and being cognisant of the needs of Zesa to pay for the electricity imports, without creating a vacuum in the country.”

Comments (2)

This is an incredible situation. If we are experiencing power cuts, it is only because of mismanagement on the part of ZESA. They say Zimbabwe does not have enough power for our needs, yet they are exporting power to Botswana. The weird thing is you only have to go along Harare's streets in the daytime to see streetlights left on. Imagine, all that power being wasted to keep streetlights on in the middle of the day. I have also seen empty shops -like the TN branch corner Nelson Mandela and first street where the lights are left on day in and day out. They should also turn off the zhingers big tv which no one, not even the street kids-is watching in first street. They do not know how to operate efficiently, only how to hike their fees so that their managers get fat cheques at the end of the month. ZESA should be closed down.

doktorhoo - 18 August 2013

Brace yourself things will be worse....

Mfana Ka Sobhuku... - 19 August 2013

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