Daily power cuts worsen

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Mugove Tafirenyika

THE country’s power crisis is worsening, with Zesa announcing yesterday its implementation of load shedding schedules lasting nearly 10 hours a day, the Daily News reports.

The under pressure power utility said the increased power cuts had been caused by continuing breakdowns at two of its creaky electricity generation units at Kariba and Hwange.

This comes as one of the country’s main sources of power, Eskom of South Africa, is experiencing major shortages of its own — limiting its ability to export electricity to Zimbabwe.

“Zesa Holdings would like to advise its valued customers countrywide of the continued limited power supply on the national electricity grid as a result of technical faults at Hwange and Kariba power stations.

“Load curtailment will continue being exercised during the morning peak (0500hrs to 1000hrs) and evening peak 1600hrs to 2000hrs across the country,” the utility said yesterday.

The load shedding comes notwithstanding the fact that in January this year the government announced plans to clear its arrears with Mozambique and South Africa — after securing a US$100 million facility from Afreximbank and reviving a 30-year tri-lateral agreement with the two neighbouring countries as part of short-term solutions to stabilise local power supplies.

The tri-lateral agreement, that was first signed in 1990, allows Zimbabwe to negotiate for “firm and competitively priced” electricity from Cahora Bassa and Eskom.

It also comes as Zesa announced early this year that it had hired two European companies to restore two units — three and six — at Hwange Thermal Power Station by March.

The two units were expected to add an additional and much-needed 300MW to the national grid.

Last year, Zimbabwe experienced one of its worst power crises — which forced Zesa to effect punishing load shedding schedules which lasted up to 18 hours a day.

The return of the power cuts also comes weeks after President Emmerson Mnangagwa sacked former Energy minister Fortune Chasi, following his highly-publicised brawl with suspended Zesa executive chairman Sydney Gata.

Chasi has since been replaced by the little-known Muzarabani North legislator, Soda Zhemu, who has the unenviable task of cleaning up alleged acts of corruption at Zesa and return the power utility to its former glory.

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