- Last Updated on 08 February 2012
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For many Zimbabweans, the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) on September 15, 2008 ushered in a new era and an end to their suffering.
Today three years after the formation of the inclusive government, Zimbabweans still bear the brunt of power cuts, erratic water supplies, and communicable diseases outbreak among other socio-economic problems.
The Herald of 6 February 2011 reported that Mozambique threatened to cut off power supply to Zimbabwe over a US$5 million debt. ZESA Holdings has capacity to generate between 900 megawatts and 1200 megawatts while Zimbabwe needs between 1900 to 2200 megawatts for domestic and industrial use.
The Herald said, in its issue on the 6th of February,
"To cover the shortfall, the company has been importing electricity from Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, due to the shortage of capital, ZESA has had problems in repaying debts to the companies. €
If Mozambique cuts off Zimbabwe it means that people have to suffer increased load shedding. The energy crisis will also affect operations and production in industries. Mining conglomerate MIMOSA, is reported to be working frantically towards ensuring that Zimbabwe is not cut off since it will affect their operations. Power cuts have become a regular occurrence in the country since the economic turmoil. It now appears normal not to have electricity in Zimbabwe.
Despite continued calls not to load shed critical areas such hospitals, it was reported last year that sixteen premature babies admitted in the paediatric intensive care unit at Parirenyatwa hospital died as a result of recurrent power cuts. The power cuts reportedly affected incubators, ventilator support machines, blood pressure and oxygen monitoring machines and ECG machines that monitor heart patterns.
Disruption in the supply of power has also forced authorities at the hospital to sometimes send patients home, while in some cases patients have had to be transferred to private hospitals for emergencies. Patients were also reported to be dying on the operating tables and stocks of unused drugs going bad as a result of ongoing power cuts at hospitals and clinics across the country.
ZESA has no shame in billing residents estimated amounts of between USD100 and USD1000 despite the fact that power supply is erratic. Last year ZESA hiked tariffs by 31 % albeit consistent power cuts across the country with some areas in high density suburbs going for days without power. ZESA must move to a more transparent billing system that is not based on estimates but one that ensures that people can enjoy value for their money rather than paying for services that are non-existent.
The chronic power problems in the country have escalated taking a toll on economic growth and productivity. Industries need adequate power supply to operate and failure to do so results in less production. Zimbabweans have resorted to other forms of energy such as gas and charcoal while the majority now use firewood as a cost cutting measure
The energy crisis bedevilling the nation is a combination of mismanagement, corruption; poor planning and aging equipment. Apart from these problems the government budgets have been stretched to the extent that maintenance of facilities and investments has become a low priority. Zimbabweans have witnessed skewed government prioritisation with the inclusive government building a multi-million dollar Defence University, buying expensive luxury vehicles for Ministers and continued existence of inflated government expenditure on foreign travel while the nation plunges into total darkness.
The development of Zimbabwe's electrical power sector is a prerequisite for growth in industries and other production sectors. A regular, consistent power supply will attract foreign investment and entice international companies to establish operations in Zimbabwe. The Coalition calls upon the government to prioritise funds for the development of the energy sector and improve on service delivery system. The Coalition reiterates the call for transparency and accountability in diamond mining to allow for the use of remittances to enhance this critical sector.