Chinamasa says government is not to blame for the current power shortages, it is an act of God


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Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa says the government is not to blame for current power shortages. It is an act of God.

He said the problem of power shortages in Zimbabwe was not new. It had, however, been worsened by drought which was affecting Zimbabwe, Zambia and Angola.

“In the past, this drought was affecting just Zimbabwe but it so happens now that it has not affected only Zimbabwe but Zambia and Angola too. Our water for power generation originates from DRC/Angola border. So, it is very clear; if you go to Victoria Falls, the falls are not as what they used to be,” Chinamasa said in response to a question from Senator Tholakele Khumalo who asked how the country’s economy was going to develop with factories getting only 20 percent of their power requirement.

“The dam levels in Kariba Dam are declining- that is the water levels. All this is because the rains did not come as we expected them in the Angola and DRC border where the rains for the Zambezi River originate. So, that is what has exacerbated the problem and because of that lowering of the water levels in the Kariba Dam, power generation has dropped from a peak of 750 megawatts to something hovering around 400 megawatts. That is the explanation.

“We are not to blame as government but it is an act of God that there are droughts.”

Chinamasa said generation of power was the government’s number one priority because the country needed power for its economy to recover.

“We need to understand that the issue of power generation cannot be achieved overnight. It requires heavy investment and we are already seized with that matter. We regard power capacity as our number one priority in order to have a good basis for our economic recovery. So, I agree with you that there is a link between shortage of power and industrial and economic growth. We are addressing it but it cannot be done overnight,” he said.

 

Q & A:

 

SENATOR KHUMALO: Thank you Madam President. My question is directed to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. You are interested in the development of the manufacturing industry so that there can be money available. Now, with the power not available, the factories are not functioning efficiently. They are about 20% functioning. How are you going to do the economic  development with 20% of electricity being made available for the functioning of factories?

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (MR. CHINAMASA): Thank you Madam President. I am grateful to the hon. senator for her question but I want to  emphasise that this is a problem that we recognised during and way before the 2013 elections.

The issue about shortage of power is not something that has happened overnight. It is a problem that we were fully aware of and it has been with us for quite a while. As you know, our generating capacity has always been around 1 200 megawatts against a depressed demand of 2 200. So, the deficit has always been there and we have been over time trying to make up for the deficit through imports from DRC, Zambia and Cabora Bassa.

Now, what has exacerbated the situation right now has been the drought. In the past, this drought was affecting just Zimbabwe but it so happens now that it has not affected only Zimbabwe but Zambia and Angola too. Our water for power generation originates from DRC/Angola border. So, it is very clear; if you go to Victoria Falls, the falls are not as what they used to be. The dam levels in Kariba Dam are declining- that is the water levels. All this is because the rains did not come as we expected them in the Angola and DRC border where the rains for the Zambezi river originate. So, that is what has exacerbated the problem and because of that lowering of the water levels in the Kariba Dam, power generation has dropped from a peak of 750 megawatts to something hovering around 400 megawatts. That is the explanation.

We are not to blame as Government but it is an act of God that there are droughts. Clearly as Government, we have taken measures to address that problem in the long term. In the long term, because most power generation projects require heavy investments and so far we have one which is being undertaken to expand Kariba South, to which when complete, hopefully in 2018, will add an additional 300 megawatts to the national grid. We are also nurturing the financial closure of Hwange 7 and 8 which again if undertaken and completed could add 600 megawatts to the national grid.

In the short term, the answer clearly is small hydros. Where you are going through a period of droughts; even small hydros are dried up. We know the Pungwe which used to have some of the small hydro  plants in the Pungwe area which used to generate about 5 megawatts; it also dried up because there is no water. The same thing with small hydros in the Chipinge-Chimanimani area. So, I think as hon. members, we need to understand that the issue of power generation cannot be achieved overnight. It requires heavy investment and we are already seized with that matter. We regard power capacity as our number one priority in order to have a good basis for our economic recovery. So, I agree with you that there is a link between shortage of power and industrial and economic growth. We are addressing it but it cannot be done overnight.

(211 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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