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Zimbabwe Turns to Emergency Diesel Power Plants as Electricity Crisis Worsens

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) says the country has now resorted to using emergency power plants to generate electricity.

ZESA has an emergency diesel plant at Dema in Mashonaland East and is planning to construct another one in Mutare, Eastern highlands.

Company spokesman Fullard Gwasira told VOA that the power utility is proposing a 49% tariff hike to offset the balance resulting from activating emergency plants that run on diesel.

Gwasira said because of low levels of water at the Kariba Hydro Power Station, they have reduced the power generation from 750 megawatts to 475 megawatts and they might reduce by a further 200 megawatts.

He said they are also refurbishing Hwange Thermal Power Station which is not operating at full capacity.

The power utility is also under pressure to repay a Chinese loan of about $2 billion. ZESA is now meeting stakeholders to explain its proposal, but farmers, business people and residents say the hike is too much.

There were consultations in Harare Wednesday and Thursday. ZESA officials will be in Bulawayo to consult stakeholders about the proposed tariff increase.

Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba said cash-strapped residents cannot afford the hike.

President of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Busisa Moyo, told VOA that the proposed increase will hurt business and will make Zimbabwe unattractive to foreign investors.

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