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Zimbabwe: Zesa Lost $4.5b Due to Covid-19 Lockdown

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POWER utility Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) lost $4.5 billion due to the Covid-19 lockdown, which it is now off-setting by frequently hiking electricity tariffs, a cabinet minister has disclosed.

Energy Minister Soda Zhemu made the stunning disclosure last Thursday week during the weekly question and answer session in the Senate, Parliament’s Upper House.

He was responding to a question from Rangarirai Bwawanda, who is also Chief Nhema.

The legislator-cum-traditional leader wanted to know why ZESA was increasing tariffs on a monthly basis.

“Why have things gone up minister? There is now a stable official rate after the auction system and there is no change. Beef was $200 and its price has gone up and electricity has also gone up,” enquired Chief Nhema.

“For example, yesterday I bought electricity for $10 000 and I got 1 000 kilowatts. What has gone up? Tollgate was $45 for light vehicles and it is now $145. Why have things gone up?”

In response, Soda said ZESA had experienced a severe deterioration in cash flows between March and September this year due to loss in value of money for tariffs, which fell by 337%.

He also said non-payments to coal mining companies led to serious incapacitation of the firms while the power utility owes countries, where it imports power from, like Mozambique more than US$100 million.

“That was the loss in value percentage due to lockdown. People were not earning much because of the lockdown. The energy company lost a total of $4.5 billion. It was very difficult to rectify or fix anomalies within the power company because of lack of funds.