10 June 2010 – Zimbabwe will not be disconnecting electricity on all defaulters during the soccer World Cup finals, to be held in South Africa, so that people may watch the televised games.
Energy Minister Elias Mudzuri told reporters on Wednesday that the government had ordered the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) to supply defaulting Zimbabweans with electricity during the competition, even though it has been a challenge managing the limited power of 1 100 megawatts available, against a demand of 2 700MW.
“The ministry is in a difficult situation in managing the limited power available. However ZESA is working to ensure equitable distribution of the limited power available to customers to enable them to watch the World Cup,” said Mudzuri.
“I have directed ZESA to suspend disconnections to allow the public to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime event. However, for those who do not pay their bills, they will be disconnected at the end of the World Cup,” he said.
The power utility is owed more than US$350 million by both residential and industrial customers in unpaid bills and had recently resorted to disconnecting defaulters. This debt is failing to service a growing import debt, procure spares for network maintenance and pay for coal for thermal power stations, among other critical areas.
He said ZESA would not be exporting electricity to South Africa unless there is an emergency during the months of June and July. They have also increased load-shedding.
“As a ministry we have adopted a policy where we are inviting investors to participate in power projects especially power generation projects. Investors can participate in any form of generation project they are competent in as independent power producers (IPPS) or in any other form of suitable Public Private Partnership. We are ready to give licences to such ventures. This will help us to have new power plants which will enable us to deliver adequate power to the whole nation,” said Mudzuri.
Foreign investors remain reluctant to provide funding badly needed to boost power generation because of uncertainty about the country’s future political and economic direction.