Fidelis Munyoro Chief Reporter
Zesa Holdings has been set tough performance standards and goals in both energy supply and administrative efficiency, with the Government taking an active role in monitoring progress.
This was detailed in the charge to the new board by Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi yesterday.
Among other measures, which include energy security and supply expansion, the new board will simplify its administration drastically, especially at top level, by consolidating the four operational subsidiaries and the holding company back into a single entity.
Outlining the terms of reference for the new Zesa board, Minister Chasi said Government required the board to implement a robust turnaround plan.
Dr Sydney Gata leads the nine-member Zesa board.
Setting the goals, Minister Chasi said the board should work out plans that see restoration of energy security and supply balance and the reintroduction of an operation reserve of at least 10 percent.
“Government expects the development of a business strategy that will ensure a viable utility,” he said.
Reversing the unbundling of Zesa was on the list, with the board charged to “consolidate the ZESA Group into one entity.”
This, said Minister Chasi, should result in a consolidated balance sheet that can underwrite new investments and develop a bigger electricity sector.
“The board must review the existing staff structure to optimal levels and ensure that the staff quality and
complement is sufficient to drive the strategy through retrenchments, retiring, transfers or rotations where necessary,” he said.
“Give place to technology of all types and to ensure adoption of ICTs to achieve operational efficiency.”
Further, the board is required to ensure the generation of a system development plan and work closely with the Rural Electrification Agency in the implementation of the rural energy master plan to ensure universal access to energy by 2030.
The board should embrace and participate in the development of all types of renewable energy technologies including rooftop solar, on-and off -grid systems, net metering and be receptive to innovative ideas as the energy sector is in transition.
“It (the board) has to enhance and expedite project implementation to finality, including, but not limited to, the Gwanda Solar Project and Dema Project as a matter of urgency and any other projects that may be in the pipeline,” said Minister Chasi.
“It has to review and contribute to the development of the evolving electricity market structure, as well as ensuring adherence to industry best practices and standards by the utility.”
Minister Chasi said the development and implementation of a public lighting programme for both urban and rural settlements was of paramount importance in the turnaround plan.
Zesa has been directed to consider diversification of the manufacturing capabilities of its manufacturing units to include solar modules, solar water heaters, lighting and accessories, prepayment meters, farming, irrigation and any other relevant energy equipment that promote the use of renewable energy.
“In its strategy, the board should also ensure coordinated planning between the utility and the productive sectors such as mining and agriculture, which are the mainstays of the economy,” said Minister Chasi.
The board had to “advise Government on matters of energy and power development, whilst at the same time staying current on matters of regional and international developments in the energy sector.”
Minister Chasi said Government, through his ministry, will be available to assist the board to achieve its mandate by creating relevant enabling energy policies.
“To this end, we expect you (board) to report regularly to the ministry on progress,” he said.
“Government, therefore, expects you to develop a detailed matrix with milestones and timelines which will be the basis of monitoring progress.”
The commitment of Government as a shareholder, said Minister Chasi, will be captured in the shareholders’ compact as provided for in Section 88 of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act.
In comments late last night, Minister Chasi said the situation at Zesa was difficult and required that Government looks through a microscope at the operations and decisions made by the board.
“This explains the very detailed manner in which we have tabulated those terms of reference. My ministry, myself in particular, will on a monthly basis interact with Zesa to monitor implementation of this mandate.”
The minister said the expectation is that the board will develop an implementation matrix that is verifiable, which tells “us what is going to be done and when?”
The ministry will make that information public so that everyone will understand the exact power situation in the country.
The mandate given to the board was wide-ranging as it speaks of a variety of immediate-term interventions, including looking at the strategic thinking by the board in terms of ensuring that its strategies are in sync with the strategies in Government ministries, more specifically those overseeing farming and mining.
“Power is not generated for the mere say so or for the sake of it,” said Minister Chasi.
“It is meant to power our economy and to provide power for domestic use. This is the kind of thinking we are expecting from the board. So the mandate is to ensure that there is clarity with respect to the expectations by myself as minister and my ministry and Government generally.”
The terms of reference were not cast in stone.
“We may need to augment them from time to time so that we are realigning the activities at Zesa with Government policies and vision,” he said.
Minister Chasi said the Government expected change within the first quarter of the coming year.
Turning to the current power situation, the minister said Zesa continued to make every effort to supply power to the public generally, and especially business and farming under the present short supply.
“Of course we prioritise key areas such as farming which is very important for food security and mining. Over the holiday, we made every effort to make sure that on the power side, Zimbabweans have reasonable access to power. But we have also taken advantage of the fact that factories and other business had closed and channelled power to farming.”
He said this did not mean that every farmer received the power they needed, but could not just let the power stay unused when farmers were desperately in need of power.