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MPs demand electricity update

By Daniel Chigundu

 Parliament says Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi must come back to the House and indicate to the legislators whether the country still has electricity or not, in light of the crippling load shedding which is also affecting production.

Most Zimbabweans are enduring about 15 hours of load shedding on a daily basis as part of ZESA’s phase 2 strategy of balancing power demand and supply in the country.

What has been frustrating a lot of people is that the Phase 2 Strategy has no known schedule which could have gone a long way in helping people to plan for the load shedding.

So dire is the situation that in some suburbs power comes back during midnight and is switched off around 5 am.

Proportional Representation legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga told Parliament that what is happening with power indicates that the country has electricity crisis and the Minister must come and explain.

“I stand on a matter of privilege.  I recognise that the Minister of Energy and Power Development came to this House at some stage to give a Ministerial Statement but I think he needs to come back.

“We are in a crisis as far as electricity is concerned.  Firstly, we were given a schedule by ZESA on when each suburb would be load shedding.  That particular schedule is not being followed.

“The second issue is that ZESA then announced that they had escalated the load shedding to phase two but there is absolutely no communication.  If you phone ZESA, no one speaks to you.  I for one can only speak to one person who is in ZESA who answers calls and that is Mr Katsande; any other person in ZESA is not speaking to us,” she said.

Zimbabwe’s power challenges are being blamed on dwindling water levels at Kariba and constant breakdowns at Hwange which has outlived its lifespan.

Efforts to import power from South Africa and Mozambique are being hampered by unpaid debts which run into about US$80 million.

Honourable Misihairabwi-Mushonga said the country cannot continue to be told stories about what is going to be done but needs to know the state of the situation as well.

“Somebody needs to come to this House and tell us if we are now a country that has no electricity because if electricity comes back at 12 midnight and it is gone by 5 am. If we do not have electricity, somebody should come and tell us but we cannot continuously be told stories about what is going to happen with tariffs.

“We cannot live and business cannot operate. So, can the Minister come back and indicate to us,” she said.

Although Minister Chasi has indicated that there is need to review energy tariffs in the country, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube told the Budget and Finance Committee that government will not increase the tariffs as that would trigger inflation.

The unavailability of power is affecting the production sector greatly as they are either forced to suspend production or rely on diesel-powered generators at a time when diesel is scarce and very expensive as well.

The power situation also pours water on the country’s efforts to lure investors under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s “Open for Business” mantra.

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to be the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network as news editor for their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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