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Mugabe: Don't Blame Minister Undenge for Power Shortages

FILE: President Robert Mugabe with First Lady Grace Mugabe greeting some cabinet ministers and close relatives recently soon after his arrival from the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Partly obscured (left) is Vice President Joice Mujuru.

President Robert Mugabe says Zimbabweans should not blame his power development minister for the country’s current electricity problems saying they are caused by low water levels at Lake Kariba.

According to the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Mr. Mugabe said this when he addressed party supporters at Harare International today soon after arriving home from the United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA.

He said Minister Samuel Undenge has nothing to do with the power shortages, which he also attributed to low electricity generation at the undercapitalized Hwange Power Station.

But critics say the country's power shortages are caused by the government's lack of planning and poor prioritization.

"This is really bad," says political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya. "In a normal situation Undenge should be fired because he has failed. We have always known the water in Kariba would one day go down; what plan did he bring as a minister to avert a national crisis. He's just being protected by Mugabe when it's clear that he has failed the country. He should just go."

Panel Interview on Electricity With Rejoice Ngwenya and Nkosana Nyoni
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Mr. Mugabe noted that Zimbabwe has alternative sources of power like coal and solar energy, adding that industries should consider introducing night shifts to avoid a complete shutdown.

He said Zambia is also facing similar challenges. Ordinary Zimbabweans also blame Harare for lack of strategic planning to ensure there's enough energy in the country.

President Mugabe also addressed divisions affecting his party as factions within Zanu PF continue to fight for political turf, in particular the so-called G40, comprising the party's young turks who are allegedly supporting First Lady Grace Mugabe, and the Emmerson Mnangagwa faction. The deputy president denies he leads a faction in Zanu PF but insiders say that is not true.

He urged the youth to desist from being used by some in the party trying to use money to lure them to their factions.

"Do not allow them to use you, those who come to you with money," he said. "The party has a constitution to deal with everything so be wary of those people coming to you to cause confusion."

He also spoke about the food shortages currently facing the country.

Mr. Mugabe said the government is doing all it can to ensure no-one does of hunger in the country.

"There is little food in the country at the moment and water but we are trying all we can to improve the situation," he told his party supporters upon arrival at the Harare Airport.