Oliver Kazunga, Senior Reporter
ZESA has engaged Treasury to mobilise resources to clear electricity import arrears to South Africa’s power utility, Eskom, a senior Government official has said.
Eskom has given Zesa Holdings up to the end of the month to clear its $43 million power import debt before cutting off the 300MW daily supplies to Zimbabwe.
Zesa owes regional power utilities a substantial amount of money, with the major creditors being Eskom, which was owed $80 million and Hydro Cahora Bassa of Mozambique ($40 million).
Despite having come up with a payment plan with all the utilities, Zesa has managed to settle $46 million leaving an outstanding bill of $43 million.
Between January and April, the country should have paid $89 million including arrears for 2016.
Zimbabwe consumes over 1 400MW per day and as of yesterday Zesa was producing 1 116MW.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development Engineer Partison Mbiriri who was in Bulawayo this week told Business Chronicle that the country was having challenges in terms of nostro balances resulting in Zesa failing to pay for power imports.
“We should pay for all the power imports that come into Zimbabwe. It’s only honourable on the business side to pay. We have challenges in terms of the nostro dollars and that challenge is well known by all concerned,” he said.
“We are doing the best we can as Zesa to engage, Ministry of Finance and Treasury, including the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. who allocated the nostro dollars to clear the power import debt arrears.”
Early this year, Zesa made payment plans with regional power utilities but due to shortage of nostro account balances the power utility has been defaulting.
“The long-term solution is for Zimbabwe to export more so that we have more foreign currency to be able to cater for electricity, fuel, medicine, and all the basic imports that we need. That can only come from our being more productive and exporting more,” said Eng Mbiriri.
Zimbabwe has been enjoying steady power supplies for the past 16 months due to various initiatives, which included imports.