Fradreck Gorwe Business Reporter
The energy sector is expected to experience some remarkable turnaround following President Mnangagwa’s swearing in of Hon Fortune Chasi as the new Minister of Energy and Power Development, taking over from Hon Joram Gumbo who has assumed new responsibilities as the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in charge of Implementation and Monitoring.
Minister Chasi’s appointment comes at a time the sector faces a litany of challenges that include fuel shortages and inadequate supply of electricity owing to low water levels at Kariba and consistent foreign currency shortages among other things.
Responding to questions in a video released on social media by the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, the new appointee expressed some determination to face the mammoth task at his disposal.
He pledged to effect efficiencies in the whole sector starting from the regulator itself, the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA), down to ZESA Holdings and its subsidiaries.
Minister Chasi is braced to ensure sound manning system (human capital) across departments in all concerned parastatals, ensure sound operations like power supply and procurement, and to guarantee closure of all outstanding and ongoing power projects.
“We are very clear as to what we need to do. The first thing is that we must be very strong in the governance of the parastatals that are involved in power generation and fuel which essentially means that I am going to have an eagle’s eye on ZESA, a very critical parastatal.
“I want to ensure that all the boards are sufficiently skilled, we have a good mix of skills in there and that the boards are composed of women and men of integrity and experience, people that will give Zimbabweans and the market confidence that we have got business continuity and that power and fuel is going to be supplied on a continuous basis”
ZESA Holdings had been hard hit with allegations of incompetent and corrupt officials before the appointment of a new board on March 19, 2019, chaired by Mr Collins Chihuri.
The preceding management had been accused of unreasonably awarding themselves hefty salaries at a time the entity was struggling to sustain itself. Unconfirmed reports pointed to nepotism and corrupt tendencies as regarding tender awards.
The new Energy Minister expressed goodwill to sweep-off all the morass likely to inhibit efficiencies in procurement practices within the sector.
“I would like to ensure that procurement issues are done properly. I would also like to ensure that ZERA, which is the regulatory authority on power, takes its charge and responsibilities,” said Chasi.