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Zimbabwe National Electric Power Utility ZESA Announces Further Power Cuts


Officials of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority blamed the economy and nonpayment by customers for the country’s chronic power shortages, but experts say the real problem is insufficient capital to maintain and upgrade capacity

The Zimbabwe Parliament’s Competition and Tariff Commission on Tuesday traveled to Bulawayo, the country's second-largest city, where officials of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority blamed the economy and nonpayment by customers for the country’s chronic power shortages.

Sources who attended the meeting said ZESA officials also pointed to Zimbabwe's adoption of the U.S. dollar and other hard currencies after phasing out the debased Zimbabwe dollar for its difficulty getting customers to pay. ZESA officials said people are paying less than the cost to the utility of providing electricity, and thereby compromising the parastatal's supply capacity.

But regional energy consultant Martin Mkweshi, a former ZESA manager who now advises clients including the Electricity Supply Commission of South Africa or ESKOM, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that the real problem is that ZESA lacks capital to upgrade plants.

ZESA said this week that the country is in for more power cuts due to maintenance work to be carried out at its hydroelectric generating plant in northeast Kariba. It said two of six generators are scheduled to go off line when maintenance work begins on Friday, April 16. The work should be done by May 21, ZESA said.

Bulawayo grocer Michael Bathandi Mpofu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Brenda Moyo that the power cuts are hurting his and other businesses.

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