Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
ENERGY and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi is in South Africa to finalise an electricity imports deal with Eskom as Government moves to reduce power shortages that are adversely affecting the country.
Minister Chasi’s trip to South Africa follows fruitful discussions between President Mnangagwa and his South African counterpart President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The two leaders met on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) Extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) held in Niger from July 4 to 8. Critically, the discussions come after Government paid US$10 million to South African power utility Eskom, as part of efforts to address its obligations for imported power.
Minister Chasi is also expected to visit Mozambique on a similar mission after the South African tour.
President Mnangagwa also met with President Felipe Nyusi during the US-Africa Summit recently and discussed possibilities of increasing power imports to Zimbabwe, which is facing acute electricity challenges due to low water levels at Kariba Hydro Power Station, and aging equipment at Hwange Thermal Power Station.
Rolling power outages have seen most parts of the country going without electricity for over 12 hours.
Addressing a press conference on the 24th Cabinet Meeting Decision Matrix yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Minister Chasi was expected to meet his counterpart Cde Gwede Mantashe during his visit. “Cabinet received the weekly brief on the Energy and
Power Supply Situation by the Acting Minister of Energy and Power Development, Joel Biggie Matiza,” she said.
“Cabinet noted that following meetings between His Excellency President Mnangagwa and his South African and Mozambican counterparts, the two Heads of State had expressed their countries’ firm commitment to assist Zimbabwe to overcome its current energy and power supply challenges.
“As a consequence of this encouraging development, the Minister of Energy and Power Development is currently in South Africa, and is soon to head to Mozambique for detailed discussions with his counterparts on possible increased power imports for Zimbabwe. The nation will be advised on the outcome of the discussions in due course.”
In his briefings to the media after meeting President Ramaphosa in Niamey, Niger, President Mnangagwa said they had discussed various issues.
“With President Ramaphosa we met and we were sharing challenges we are facing and, in particular energy shortages. We exchanged views on how we can deal with that issue. Of course, our Zesa owes Eskom quite a lot of money and they have been able to pay US$10 million last week to reduce that debt.
“This enables them to have discussions and I think our Minister of Energy will go to South Africa next week to discuss some new arrangements,” said President Mnangagwa.
Last week, Government paid US$10 million to reduce the debt owed by Zesa to South Africa’s Eskom.
Zesa owes Eskom about US$35 million.
Speaking after his meeting with Mozambique President Nyusi, President Mnangagwa said they had agreed that Maputo will supply more electricity to Zimbabwe.
The two countries’ ministers of Energy are expected to meet and seal the deal.
“My minister will go to Mozambique. I discussed with the President of Mozambique, Nyusi (my brother) and they are ready for us to discuss the issue so that they can also increase the supply of energy from Cahora Bassa to Zimbabwe on terms which are comfortable to us,” he said.
Zimbabwe owes South Africa’s Eskom and Mozambique’s HCB about US$74 million, resulted in the two utilities reducing electricity imports into the country.
Minister Mutsvangwa also said Cabinet was briefed on the fuel situation.
“On fuel, Cabinet was briefed that urgent steps are now being taken to roll out the fuel tracking technology throughout the country,” she said.
The tracking system is meant to reduce leakages that have worsened the shortages being experienced in the country.