Is it ever going to be enough?

HARARE - When the Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba said that white farmers never used to be charged for electricity usage, I was tempted to go and ask Zesa Holdings (Zesa) to reimburse me for all the electricity I used and paid for while on my farm purchased legally in 1990 but forcibly seized in 2000.

The Buhera South MP was talking about an incentive apparently offered to veterans of World War Two who were interested in taking up farming in 1946 at the end of the war. 

Unfortunately, the MP’s claim created a totally false assumption that this free electricity continued for both WW2 veterans and all white farmers for the following 68 years. It most certainly did not.  

When Zanu PF’s compulsory farm acquisitions took place the people who benefited from land reform must admit that when they evicted the white farmers and their employees, the electricity did not go off. 

Evicted from my farm, I filled in disconnection forms at Zesa because I would not be held responsible for consumption by farm invaders.

Zesa declined my instruction to disconnect supplies saying they had been told not to disconnect supplies to seized farms. This politically-inspired policy undoubtedly contributed to Zimbabwe’s perennial electricity crisis. 

Almost as soon as the 2014 World Cup Football tournament ended a couple of weeks ago, power outages started again.

Extended load shedding of around 35 hours a week is crippling our ability to run homes and businesses this winter, putting even more pressure on the stagnant economy.

Consumers have to spend double the amount they budget for power as they are forced to buy fuel and run generators. 

It is ironic that the Buhera South MP has chosen this time to call for free electricity for farmers.

Zesa cannot even produce enough electricity to meet the needs of 40 percent of its existing paying consumers let alone consider giving free electricity to farmers.

From Zimbabwe’s five power stations, 1 400 megawatts are currently being generated everyday, only 60 percent of the 2 200 megawatts we need.

This power shortfall doesn’t even include the demand from new residential consumers still on the waiting list for electricity connections.

According to Zesa, there are presently 100 000 stands in 179 housing schemes in the country waiting for power. 

Those 100 000 stands haven’t even got what Zesa call backbone infrastructure which presumably means poles, cables, transformers and metres requiring $79 million to install.

Upgrades at Kariba are waiting to begin as soon as capital is available and the lack of maintenance to existing Zesa infrastructure in urban areas is visible to us all. 

How can legislators even be talking about free electricity when the situation is already so dire?

The power utility’s CEO said that 763 companies which had closed because of the current economic conditions, or were distressed or under liquidation already owe Zesa $58 million.

They are not the only defaulters; another $943 million is owed by consumers in all sectors from domestic and farming to, mining and industrial users.

Zesa is stuck in a vicious circle, carrying a huge debt owed by consumers, generating just over half of what we need every day, unable to meet the demand for infrastructure and installations to new consumers or keep up with improvements and upgrades needed for existing power generating facilities. 

Considering giving free electricity to anyone in the current economic climate makes no sense at all.

Weren’t free farms, seed, fertiliser, ploughs, scotch carts, tractors, generators and even combine harvesters enough for land beneficiaries?

Zimbabwe’s war veterans got cash payouts and farms, lifelong pensions, medical aid and school fees. When will it be enough?  Is it ever going to be enough?

Comments (3)

M.P. Chinotimba, it"s people like you that disgrace Zimbabwe's intelligence, how dumb can you get ? Zimbabwe's village idiot of the day.

ronaldos - 30 July 2014

34 years later and this government of ours still harps on about colonial rule and whites. In another 34 years time they will still be harping on about giving more things for free to those who don't know how to work for anything - even though all of these old fossils will be well deceased by then, their backward legacy will live on. If we weren't a country of monkeys beforehand, we sure are now.

Graham - 30 July 2014

Mwedzi kana uchiri mutete zvinokanganisa mamwe mapenzi kufunga.

Mukanya - 31 July 2014

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