Government yesterday confirmed paying US$10 million to South African power utility, Eskom, to service the debt to the power utility — and the money was set to be in the receiver’s bank by end of day yesterday.
Last week, Government paid $20 million to Zesa Holdings, which acknowledged receiving the money but the South African power utility kicked off some dust when it took to social media saying it had not received funds from Harare .
Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, yesterday appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance and Economic Development chaired by Cde Felix Mhona.
Prof Ncube was in the company of the ministry’s secretary Mr George Guvamatanga and Reserve Bank Governor, Dr John Mangudya.
Prof Ncube confirmed that Eskom was owed US$33 million by Government.
He also said Government was working on settling its debts to Eskom and the Mozambique power supplier, Cahora Bassa.
“We owe Eskom, US$33 million and US$37 million to our colleagues in Mozambique. We will continue to service these debts.
“By end of today (yesterday) we should be able to settle US$10 million. We also paid RTGS$20 million, which was domestic, to Zesa and they did acknowledge payment.
“An issue becomes an RTGS equivalent to these US dollars required to pay the debts. Often the company in question (Zesa) has liquidity challenges and this makes it not so easy to honour these US dollar payments abroad even when we have access to US dollars.
“We are doing everything we can to make sure we extinguish our debts and power continues to flow,” he said.
Prof Ncube said the Ministry of Energy and Power Development had come up with strategies on managing demand on power.
“The Ministry of Energy has shared a document regarding strategies about demand management in terms of demand for power, understanding who the customers are; mining companies, residential areas, manufacturers, agriculture; have a sense of how those should be managed, then looking at the supply side management sources of power; coal, hydro imported from Mozambique and South Africa and the opportunities for supply of more power through renewable energy such as solar energy.
“There is also clear articulation of how that could be managed and now it is about squeezing out efficiency out of Zesa itself in the way it operates and the way it procures so we minimise waste,” he said.
Finance and Economic Development secretary, Mr George Guvamatanga, confirmed the payment arrangements to Eskom.
He said sometimes process took longer to be fully processed.
“When a payment is made, there is a process in Government and there is a point where a budget is released and authorised and a payment is done. There are other follow-up processes which may include telegraphic transfer being done, the transfers of the local currency being done but from a process perspective when a budget is released from the Minister’s perspective, a payment is done and it would have been done.
“The other ensuing process is just a process which then gets you through to the final proof of payment. That process would ordinarily take seven days. When the Minister pronounces that a payment has been done from a process perspective it has been done,” he said.
Zimbabwe is battling electricity shortages following a sharp decline in water levels in Kariba Dam due to erratic rains in the 2018-19 rainfall season, and generation constraints at Hwange Power Station because of ageing equipment.
This has resulted in massive load shedding, which lasts up to 10 hours especially for residential customers.