Zesa, have mercy

HARARE - Zimbabweans are in for a nightmarish “black” winter, with soccer fans salivating at the prospects of an exhilarating 2014 Soccer World Cup likely to miss out completely on this football jamboree as beleaguered power utility, Zesa Holdings (Zesa), imposes diabolic power cuts.

The State-owned electricity firm published a horrendous load-shedding schedule this week showing that some suburbs will have to do without power for up to 16 hours a day, while the better off ones will be without power for up to nine hours a day.

The company, which supplies about 95 percent of the country’s electricity, called on both major industrial customers and domestic users to reduce their power usage and to turn off all non-essential electrical items.

Noah Gwariro, Zimbabwe Power Company managing director, attributed the draconian power cuts to interruptions of power production at Hwange Power Station, where Unit 5 of the giant power plant is down, amid increased demand as the winter cold bites.

The drastic load shedding will particularly hit hard soccer-crazy fans, as the world’s biggest single sporting event takes off in Brazil this week.

Expectedly, Zimbabweans have expressed outrage at the deteriorating electricity supply situation in the country, particularly as the debilitating winter power cuts have become an annual ritual.

The increased power outages are also having a deleterious effect on Zimbabwe’s struggling economic sectors such as industry, mining, agriculture and commerce — with industrialists and economic experts warning yesterday that the widespread blackouts were causing factories and mines to close, and costing the economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.

Industrialist and former Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president, Kumbirai Katsande, said power was one of the many things that needed to be fixed urgently in the country.

“For us in industry, we knew that Zesa could not perform any miracles under the current economic situation and we have already resorted to buying expensive emergency generators to keep the factories running,” he said.

“Increased load-shedding has affected productivity and is hindering us from meeting deadlines. However, our hope is that our colleagues at Zesa will do as much as possible with the limited resources at their disposal.”

The crippling electricity shortages have not only affected the livelihoods of Zimbabweans, but also the environment. Firewood has become a major source of energy for many households and tobacco farmers, resulting in rampant deforestation and a need for an extensive reforestation programme.

Zimbabwe requires about 2 200 megawatts (MW) of energy at peak demand but faces an acute power shortage, as it is only providing plus or minus 1 000 MW at the moment.

Due to power outages, industries are sometimes forced to resort to alternative but more expensive sources of power such as diesel-powered generators.

Companies interviewed by CZI in its 2013 Manufacturing Sector Survey cited power as one of the main constraints towards the revival of the manufacturing sector.

Mines, hospitals, factories and even schools have stand-by generators which they are forced to fuel in case of a power cuts, thereby raising costs.

The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) recently blamed Zesa for the loss of interest from farmers to grow winter wheat.

“Every year towards the start of the winter season, the ZETDC has always assured farmers that they will reserve a certain amount of the available electricity for winter wheat production, but half way through the season, the promise has become empty as load shedding sets in,” CFU said in a statement.

Residents’ groups say they have started gathering residents’ views before approaching the power utility over the new load-shedding schedule, given that in the past, it has failed to adhere to its load-shedding schedule.

Industry experts and social commentators have blamed government for failing to come up with lasting solutions to the perennial power outages.

Zimbabwe has been experiencing acute electricity shortages since 2007. Things got a bit better during the inclusive government era, but have since taken a turn for the worse since late last year.

Although the country has approved more than half a dozen power projects, most of the projects are yet to take off due to lack of financial resources.

Despite recently announcing winners of solar tenders almost two months ago, the government is yet to give direction to the winning bidders to commence construction.

Comments (10)

unotoshaya kuti zvinombofamba sei

concerned - 13 June 2014

Zvakwana !!! Enough is enough. Lets heed the call and march into the streets to remove these people. This government must go!!

Changamire Dombo - 13 June 2014

ZESA should spare us their "interrupted production at Hwange" lies. Evey year they sing the same song all we want is power in our houses. We cant pay money to recieve nonsense every year. It is high time people should know the real reasons why they are not recieving services tallying their payment.

DISSAPOINTED - 13 June 2014

Changamire Dombo, hurumende ingabvisirwa magetsi chaiwo here? Kwanaiwozve baba imi, ndimimunovhiiswa mbudzi panotongwa nyaya nevamwe varume ini kkkk

tk - 13 June 2014

ZESA ndiyo organisation yafa manje vakomana pane chibuda ikoko kuzesa,but guys do you think are only people who are only capable. i dont think they are other young tallent candre who can drive this energeticaly mmmmm sometimes.

taws - 14 June 2014

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DT G - 14 June 2014

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@tk - saka in your own opinion government haibve kana zvodiyi? You are a fool. Changamier Dombo is dead right. If the regime is incompetent then it should be removed and a competent one put in its place. Zvako zvana kuvhuya mbudzi ndezve hu stupid hwako.

Musona - 14 June 2014

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