Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter
Former ZESA Holdings chief executive Josh Chifamba, says he successfully implemented several key power projects during his tenure at the helm of the power utility and contends he has left the company in good standing going forward.
Eng Chifamba, who has left the State power utility after the company’s board of directors decided not to renew his second term contract following its expiry sometime last year, said Zimbabwe’s power system was now stable.
He had been at the helm of Zesa as its chief executive over the past seven years.
Eng Chifamba said the country last experienced load shedding four years ago, as Zimbabwe used imports to bridge a domestic deficit and had overseen successful completion of the $533 million extension of Kariba South power station.
“I look back with pride on what we achieved together. It’s getting to four years now without load shedding; Kariba is up and running; Hwange Power Station extension is in progress; the power system is now stable; a system development programme is in place; prepaid income is growing.
“I believe the business fundamentals we created are good and Zesa is well positioned to continue to support the new dispensation. As with everything, there are areas we could have done better, but I believe as a whole, we did very well,” he said.
The State power utility manages two main power stations, Hwange, which has installed capacity of 920 megawatts but manages an average of 450MW due to advanced age, and Kariba South, which had its 750MW capacity extended by 300MW.
The company has a programme to revamp the capacities of three small thermals in Harare, Munyati and Bulawayo and is also pursuing a joint venture with Zambia to develop the 2400MW Batoka hydro power scheme (2400 MW) on the Zambezi River.
Eng Chifamba said he wished his successor well and implored the new management to embrace Cabinet’s reform programme for the utility, which will rebundle its units, to ensure the company becomes more effective and efficient.
The former Zesa CEO said, as he bows out, it would be remiss not to express his gratitude to President Mnangagwa, the Government and Ministry of Energy and Power Development, all line ministers he served under, Zesa boards and employees he worked with the power utility.
Eng Chifamba was already on suspension pending investigation into the allegations of criminal abuse of office and suspected irregularities around procurement of key electrical equipment imported by two ZESA subsidiaries from India.
Eng Chifamba was arrested in October last year in connection with alleged criminal abuse of office in the awarding of a contract involving ZESA’S units ZETDC and ZENT and Indian firm, PME, for the supply of transformers and other equipment worth $35 million.
ZETDC, which is ZESA’s distribution arm, installs most of the electrical equipment in all national projects while its sister company ZENT, either assembles transformers locally or procures them on request by sister companies for local projects.
The ZESA and ZESA subsidiary bigwigs, who were all on suspension, were arrested over alleged irregular conduct, which in 2014 saw Indian firm PME unprocedurally supply transformers to ZESA Holdings subsidiary ZENT Enterprises.
ZENT subsequently lost millions of dollars in insurance and storage fees for the over $16 million worth of transformers received from the Indian firm without placing an order for the equipment.
The ZESA boss was arrested together with Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution (ZETDC) managing director Eng Julian Chinembiri and his finance director Thokozani Dhliwayo.
The Zesa board took the decision not to renew Eng Chifamba’s contract on December 13, 2018. The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) endorsed the board’s decision in consultation with Energy and Power Development Minister Joram Gumbo.
Source : The Herald