Chasi returns home empty-handed

By Staff reporter | 28 Jul 2019 at 15:02hrs
Energy minister Fortune Chasi has returned home empty-handed from South Africa where he had gone to convince that country's power utility Eskom to increase power exports to Zimbabwe.
Eskom currently pumps in just 50 megawatts (MW) of electricity because of the US$27 million owed to the entity by Zesa.

The South African company, which received US$10 million from Zimbabwe last month, is said to be digging-in on resumption of improved power supplies, insisting that Zimbabwe offsets its debt in full first.

Chasi had hoped that his trip to Johannesburg would yield instant results as he battles to plug the problematic load-shedding scourge which has paralysed the operations of businesses, hospitals and households.

However, sources told Daily News yesterday that Chasi did not find immediate joy, although there is light at the end of the tunnel.
"Eskom wants concrete payment plans and strong indications from Zimbabwe that they will indeed pay the money.

"The company said it has its own problems and were not willing to continue supplying Zimbabwe with power without receiving significant chuck of the outstanding funds," said the source.
Speaking to South African media this week, Chasi said he hoped a deal would be arrived at soon.

"The one thing we want to say to the South African government is that we owe significant amounts of money and we are making efforts to repay the amount we owe to Eskom and we are grateful for the assistance we have received over time," the former Justice deputy minister said.

The acute power shortages are as a result of low water levels at Kariba Hydro Power Station where the dam is 28 percent full owing to severe drought recorded last year. Top investors in the country complained over the power outages which are lasting 18 hours a day.

Chinese tile manufacturer Sunny Yi Feng, one of the largest new investors in the country, implored the government to address the power crisis. "Our operations have been hard-hit by the rolling power cuts, which have damaged machinery and increased the cost of production. We need 18 000l of diesel per day (for generators)."

Another company, Surface Wilmar, said it had sent home 300 workers and was on the verge of shutting down after the power cuts severely hampered production. The country's beverage manufacturer Delta, said consumption of beer had declined by 57 percent from the previous quarter, while that of sparkling beverages went down by 79 percent. It attributed the slump in performance to the country's economic meltdown.

"The macro-economic challenges have led to a surge in inflation and a fast-depreciating exchange rate, which has resulted in erosion of disposable incomes and reduced consumer spending," Delta stated in a trading update.

Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst economic crisis in a decade with inflation pegged at more than 175 percent in June.



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