By Joel Mandaza
ZESA`s proposal to charge exporters in foreign currency has finally been granted as Government has adopted the idea into law through a statutory instrument.
The power utility which has been facing liquidity challenges has been pushing to access hard currency through tariffs as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe forex distribution system is facing pressure.
Statutory Instrument 249 of 2019 which was published recently states that businesses that export have to pre-fund their access to power.
“Subject to subsection (2), any designated consumer of electricity may enter into a contract or memorandum of agreement with ZESA to pay in advance for the supply of electricity by ZESA in foreign currency,” Section 5 (1) of the statutory instrument reads.
Zimbabwe has been facing load shedding due to non-payment of debts owed to foreign power utilities including South Africa`s Eskom.
The money which will be paid directly into ZESA accounts by exporters will be used for machinery spares and power importation.
Section 6 (2) states the way the money will be handled.
“ZESA shall not make any withdrawals or payments from any foreign currency account referred to in subsection (1) without prior written approval of the Reserve Bank and the amount accrued in the account shall be used and applied for and to the— (a) purchasing of electricity outside Zimbabwe; (b)
importation of spare parts, critical assets and components needed to maintain the local generation, transmission, distribution and retail infrastructure of the electricity network to ensure sustainable supply; (c) payment of external insurance for critical infrastructure;(d) payment of external loan repayments.”
The order carried in the Statutory Instrument is temporary as it is expected to last for six months, although there is an option for the Government to extend it if the power situation does not improve until then