Energy minister should explain Zesa blackouts

HARARE - Political and social commentators are calling on the new minister of Energy, Dzikamai Mavhaire to explain to the nation what is really happening in terms of power supply.

Since the July 31 harmonised elections, power blackouts are increasing each day with the power utility promising more cuts until February.

The Daily News caught up with social and political commentators who thought the new energy minister and government have no clue on how to solve this problem which has been going on for years unattended.

Political activist Tabani Moyo says it is time Mavhaire faced the nation and put the record straight as the blackouts have a massive negative impact on industry and commerce and has a donimo effect on the populace at large.

“But one gets the feeling that the new minister is clueless on what needs to be done.

The same is true with water supply; our basic human right to access clean water is being violated.

“The minister should stop the  hide-and-seek approach with the populace but rather confront the gray areas and solve the issue once and for all,” adds Moyo.

He says the key challenge is that noone has a clue on what is happening at Zesa.

“They never published their load shedding schedule to the nation. One gets a feeling that in the absence of visionary leadership the sole supplier of energy in the country is on auto cruise, without an idea on when this will last,” says Moyo.

He believes there are key questions that need answers: “How much power are we generating, under normal circumstances in summer there is lower consumption compared to winter.

“How much are we exporting to countries like Namibia during such a power crisis?”

Legislator Jessie Fungayi Majome says the minister of Energy will have to tell us himself how he is resolving this problem.

“It’s a bad omen. what ‘empowerment’ we can expect from the ‘new’ government? I don’t think conspiracy theories of revenge by Zesa are helpful or factual, I would imagine Zesa will have serious problems covering the deficit created by writing off debts. 

“The new government must pay Zesa the money it wrote off. If it doesn’t, we consumers are ultimately going to pay the price for it with these continuing and worsening blackouts. Somebody must pay! In this case it’s the government,” says Majome.

Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe, CCDZ director Phillip Pasirayi believes the new Zanu PF government is clueless on how it can tackle the myriad economic challenges the country is facing.
“The success of this government is going to be measured by its ability to deliver positive social and political goods to the electorate. 

“People’s expectations on social services are too high and I don’t see Zanu PF fulfilling those expectations.

“This is the reason why the MDC and other parties should continue to pile up pressure on this regime until it collapses,” says Pasirayi.

He believes the Zesa blackouts are among the blunders that the MDC and other opposition parties should capitalise on and expose the weaknesses of Zanu PF and the party’s failure to address these economic challenges.

“The basis of the argument should be that people must withdraw their support from any government that is failing to provide electricity, water and basic healthcare.”

Pasirayi believes Zanu PF has failed dismally not because of sanctions but because of ill-conceived economic policies like indigenisation and empowerment programmes which hurt the economy and drive away investors.

“The other reason is the party’s failure to address corruption involving senior government official, particularly in the extractive industry.

“It means resources are benefiting a few Zanu PF chefs who are living opulent lives whilst the majority remains poor. It also means that the resources from mining only benefit a few politicians when they are supposed to be invested in energy, agriculture and reviving industry,” adds Pasirayi.

Pan Africanist Thomas Deve says citizens and companies must promote the use of alternative sources of energy like solar and gas to reduce sole dependency on Zesa.

“They have to push the State to cancel duties where these commodities and related inputs have to be imported. Debt cancellations provide relief for customers but does not excuse Zesa from its primary responsibility as an energy provider,” says Deve.

Precious Shumba, Harare Residents Trust, HRT director says while as an organisation they cannot speculate on the actual reasoning and justification for the endless blackouts, “it is difficult for citizens not to link the government’s directive on debt relief with the current status of unhindered darkness where energy is needed to propel business and economic revival.”

Shumba says Zesa does not seem to favour the truth on this matter, preferring to give unconvincing explanations.

“At this stage we are unable to say whether or not Mavhaire has capacity. But we can definitely say that the minister has taken too long to demonstrate his public appreciation of the energy situation in the country.

“To allay all doubts and fears among the citizenry, the minister of Energy and Power Development has to rise to the occasion and answer his critics who genuinely see no capacity in him to tackle this national crisis,” says Shumba.

He adds that the residents are frustrated, and getting no real movement from the energy ministry in terms of trying to resolve this urgent matter.

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