An official of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority inspects water levels at Kariba in Zimbabwe. Picture: REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO
An official of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority inspects water levels at Kariba in Zimbabwe. Picture: REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO

Zimbabwe’s government said on Tuesday that it would beg Eskom to urgently supply it with power after paying $10m to offset a $33m debt owed to the SA power utility.

Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst power cuts in a decade of between 15 and 18 hours a day. These power cuts have further escalated Zimbabwe’s economic challenges as large companies are forced to import power on their own.

Small business, which, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) contribute 60% of GDP, have been hardest hit, with some forced to scale down operations or temporarily shut down.

Artisinal or informal miners who contributed the bulk of gold output last year have warned that production from their operations will plummet this year owing to the power cuts.

Eskom confirms payment from Zimbabwe's electricity authority.

Speaking at a post-cabinet briefing with journalists on Tuesday, energy minister Fortune Chasi said his government would turn to Eskom for assistance.

“We have paid the $10m and we are going to engage our brothers in SA to say, now that we have paid, is there any arrangement that we can make to get power? I am not in a position to say how much power we will be able to get but I hope that, as our neighbours, they will be able to hear our concerns and give us something that will help mitigate our energy crisis.”

In a tweet posted on Tuesday on its official account, Eskom acknowledged receiving the payment from Zimbabwe’s power utility.

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“Eskom confirms that the payment made by Zimbabwe is reflecting in its account today. Discussions will continue with the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) to find a mutually beneficial solution to the outstanding debt. Eskom is a commercial operation and will be guided by the contracts we have in place with Zesa,” Eskom said.

Last week, Zimbabwe’s government rushed to announce it had paid the money to Eskom, leading it to state that the money had not reflected in its account.

Zimbabwe is generating only a third of its capacity owing to low water levels at its hydro-plant at Kariba Dam while aging equipment at its Hwange coal-fired plant has broken down.

The power outages are also blamed on corruption as power projects that were initiated years ago have remained stunted, owing to abuse of funds and maladministration.