Mnangagwa Boasts ZESA Now Better Than South Africa’s ESKOM
4 July 2023
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Zimbabwe’s Power Generation Milestones Overshadowed by Longstanding Challenges

By Farai D Hove | ZANU PF President, Emmerson Mnangagwa has boasted that the country’s power utility, Zesa, no longer conducts load-shedding schedules like South Africa’s ESCOM. He attributed this achievement to improved power generation capacity, including the completion of the Hwange Thermal Power Station Units 7 and 8 expansion projects, solar park developments, and increased output from the Kariba Hydro-Power Station. While the government hails these milestones, critics argue that the delays in project completion, corruption, and the upcoming elections overshadow the progress made in the power sector.

Improved Power Generation Capacity:
Mnangagwa highlighted the successful implementation of the Hwange Thermal Power Station Units 7 and 8 expansion projects, solar park initiatives, and increased output from the Kariba Hydro-Power Station as factors contributing to the improved power generation capacity. These efforts have pushed the average domestic generation capacity to over 1,500MW, a significant increase from less than 600MW in March of the same year.

Reduced Load-Shedding and Economic Impact:
The enhanced power generation capacity has led to a substantial reduction in load-shedding across Zimbabwe. This development has been well-received by the productive sector, enabling businesses to plan their operations more effectively and ensure smoother industry outcomes. The reduced load-shedding has positive implications for economic growth, as it boosts production, increases capacity utilization, and lowers production costs. Industries are gradually moving away from costly diesel generators, which were previously used as an alternative power source.

Criticism and Lingering Challenges:
Despite the government’s celebration of these power generation milestones, critics argue that the achievements are overshadowed by longstanding challenges. Wilbert Mukori, an analyst and former ZESA engineer, emphasizes that the completion of Hwange Units 7 and 8, after a delay of 43 years since the feasibility studies were conducted in 1980, is hardly a cause for celebration. Mukori points out rampant corruption in the country and questions the government’s commitment to stamping out corruption, citing reports of billions of dollars being embezzled.

Elections and Reforms:
Mukori also raises concerns about the upcoming 2023 elections, suggesting that the government is focused on extending its stay in power rather than addressing the country’s pressing issues. He criticizes the opposition for participating in what he considers flawed elections, highlighting the lack of meaningful reforms and the disregard for democratic principles. Mukori urges SADC leaders and the international community to recognize the flaws in the electoral process and demand the implementation of democratic reforms before endorsing the elections.

Moving Forward:
Zimbabwe’s power sector achievements are commendable, as they contribute to a more stable electricity supply and have a positive impact on the economy. However, it is crucial to address the underlying challenges that continue to hinder progress. The completion of infrastructure projects must be expedited, and corruption should be effectively tackled to ensure the equitable use of resources. Furthermore, the electoral process requires comprehensive reforms to restore faith in democratic principles and ensure free, fair, and credible elections in the future.

While Zimbabwe has made significant strides in improving power generation capacity and reducing load shedding, there are underlying challenges that need to be addressed. The delayed completion of infrastructure projects, widespread corruption, and concerns about the upcoming elections raise doubts about the government’s commitment to comprehensive reforms. It is essential for Zimbabwe to prioritize transparency, accountability, and good governance to build a sustainable and prosperous future. The international community, including SADC leaders, should closely monitor the electoral process and encourage the implementation of democratic reforms to ensure a credible and inclusive democratic system in Zimbabwe.