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The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has come to the rescue of national power utility, ZESA, from the stoppage of power supply by South Africa’s Eskom due to an outstanding import bill.

The Herald reported that Eskom had given Zesa up until the end of May to settle its arrears or risk being switched off over being in $43 million debt.

But now with the available funding, Zesa officials are expected to take the payment plan to Eskom for ratification on Friday.

Speaking to the media, the power utility’s chief executive Engineer, Josh Chifamba said: "I will not divulge details to you safe to say we had a fruitful meeting with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya.”

However, Chifamba added that: "It seems we are on course and the situation is back to normal."

Stoppage of power imports

Commenting on the development, Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe, said: "The Zimbabwe central bank wrote to us and is providing a government guarantee for the debt.

"That is enough for us that the State has now stepped in. It's not an unusual arrangement for the State to provide guarantees and even us at Eskom, we have government guarantees for the debts which we owe. We are not even singling out Zimbabwe for not being able to pay.”

Phasiwe continued:  "They have publicly acknowledged what they owe to Eskom. We as Eskom are not going to say the amounts owed to us in public except that they are now making arrangements to facilitate payment."

Media highlighted that switching off Zimbabwe would have seen the country reverting to load shedding, which was last experienced 16 months ago.

Outstanding import bill

ZESA has an outstanding import bill of $43 million and major creditors are Eskom and the Mozambican power company, Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB), media reported.

HCB supplies the power utility with 50MW per day, while Eskom provides 300MW.

The power imports have resulted in ZESA owing Eskom $80 million and HCB $40 million, but the $43 million is emanating from a payment plan the power utility failed to honour due to foreign currency shortages.

Earlier this year, ZESA made payment plans with regional power utilities and should have paid $89 million between January and April.

The power utility managed to pay only $46 million under the payment plan, which included 2016 arrears, media reported. Read more...