Power utility Zesa will increase electricity tariffs next week as the country grapples with a crippling energy crisis that has brought industry to its knees.
Speaking before a live audience during a In Conversation with Trevor, a premium Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) show broadcast on the media house’s Heart and Soul TV, Energy minister Fortune Chasi said the current tariffs being charged by Zesa were uncompetitive, leaving the power utility in a huge hole.
Chasi said to avert the collapse of Zesa, there was no option, but to increase current tariffs, a move which will be effected next week.
“The issue of power tariff increase is an urgent matter and will be dealt with as soon as next week, we have to deal with that matter if we have to avoid collapsing Zesa which is insolvent as I speak right now,” he said.
Chasi refused to disclose the margins which the tariffs will go up, saying he was bound by government procedures.
“I cannot say because I have to allow all the processes to happen, but what I can say is you will need a bit more money by next week to buy energy,” he said.
Chasi said the power crisis in Zimbabwe was dire and if there was no national consensus to deal with the energy problem the nation could drown into total darkness.
“We can sink if we don’t come together for lasting solutions… it is possible for us to have total darkness one day because where there is light there is a possibility of darkness,” he said highlighting the extent of the problem Zimbabwe finds itself in.
Chasi also noted that Zesa was riddled with corruption and had become a gold mine for a few individuals lining their pockets at the expense of the general public.
Bled through dubious tendering processes and poor political decisions, Chasi said the power utility had become a shell after being looted dry.
“We need to address corruption at Zesa in a holistic manner, it’s not a secret that the company has been viewed as a gold mine lining the pockets of a few. Many have made money at Zesa; around 400 transformers have been stolen,” Chasi said.
Debtors owe Zesa $1,2 billion, while local authorities are battling to settle a $300 million debt which Chasi said was crippling the power utility.
The minister said if Zesa managed to collect just $400 million from that debt it could pay off its close to US$80 million owed to South Africa and Mozambique power utilities.
The full interview will be broadcast on Heart and Soul TV over the weekend.