COMMENT: Unit 7 synchronising makes history in the power generation Dr Gata and Amos Marowa inside unit 7 plant

For many, history is just a record of the past — what happened, when it happened, where it happened, why it happened, and how it happened. History is just a record of an important event, people, or date.

No one has really explained what history is better than historians James Davidson and Mark Lytle who said: “History is not ‘what happened in the past;’ rather it is the act of selecting, analysing, and writing about the past.”

On Monday an important event occurred in Hwange, Matabeleland North. Hwange Thermal Power Station’s Unit 7 was successfully synchronised with the national grid and started feeding electricity.

Exterior achitecture of the newly established hwange unit 7 and 8

In August 2018, Zimbabwe Power Company officially commenced expansion works at Hwange Power Station which will result in a third stage being added to the station with 2 x 300MW units being constructed. The expansion project will increase

Hwange’s generation capacity from the current 920MW to 1520MW.

One of the Second Republic’s signature projects, Hwange Thermal Power Station’s Unit 7 is set to be a game-changer in the supply of electricity and the national economy.

The project also speaks to the promises made by the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa and the success of his foreign policy stance that led to the unlocking of US$1,4 billion required for the project.

Zesa Holdings executive chairman Dr Sydney Gata (second right) and Engineer Amos Marawa Deputy (right) Chief Secretary in charge of flagship projects in OPC inside the control room

It is no secret that for over a decade, Zimbabwe had sought funding from China for the expansion project, but to no avail. It was the first overseas State visit by President Mnangagwa that resulted in the project starting in August 2018.

There is also the story about illegal Western sanctions that are meant to cripple the Zimbabwean economy. The project is a living testimony to the fact that the will of Zimbabweans cannot be broken, even by the all-powerful USA.

How about the story on international ban on coal? Amazingly, this project survived by a whisker. It will be the last such investment, not only in Zimbabwe but the rest of the world.

“China Ban on Foreign Coal Investment Leaves Zimbabwe Scrambling,” screamed a Bloomberg headline last year. In March 2022, a Reuters headline read: “In Zimbabwe, coal power project seeks other backing after China’s U-turn.”

“Coal is out of fashion with funders and Zimbabwe needs a new plan, fast,” read another one, this time by newZWire. Read the article in part: “Some 26 billion tonnes of coal lie under Zimbabwe’s earth, enough to last 834 years. As world powers drag funders away from coal, much of this could now go to waste, and the country must find a new plan to solve its energy crisis.”

Hwange Thermal Power Station’s Unit 7’s story is also incomplete without mention of modern history’s leading external shock — the Covid-19 outbreak. The pandemic stalled this major national project as it did to many all over the world.

Gata and amos marawa listen to Protection EngineerTawanda mufundisi (right) on how substation protection panels work

The power station stands tall as a reminder of the victory over Covid-19 and all the economic, social and political challenges that came with the deadly infectious disease that has since December 2019 led to 760 360 956 confirmed cases and 6 873 477 deaths.

The official commissioning of Hwange Thermal Power Station’s Unit 7 and the anticipated bringing online of the installed capacity of 300MW by June this year, will not just be an important event or record of the past.

There will be serious acts of “selecting, analysing, and writing,” about this important day in the history of Zimbabwe.

Gata greet Sino hydro chinese workers on arrival to lead proceedings at the sychronization of unit 7 into the national grid

This will be a great opportunity for Zimbabweans to tell their own story. This will be an opportunity for Zimbabweans to shine.

The day when President Mnangagwa officially commissions this massive project will never be forgotten. On the back of illegal western sanctions, Covid-19, and the international ban on coal as a source of power, Zimbabwe defied the odds.

Zimbabwe, let’s write this beautiful story. Let’s make history!

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