The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
IT will no longer be business as usual for boards under the Ministry of Energy and Power as among a cocktail of measures being proposed their performances will be subjected to scrutiny by members of the public.
Within the cocktail of measures the Minister of Energy and Power Development, Advocate Fortune Chasi has also demanded that the boards, especially that of the power utility, Zesa Holdings regularly appraise the Government and the public of any developments being undertaken at the parastatal. Adv Chasi said a comprehensive document spelling out the guidelines and mandates to be adhered to by the board would be released this week.
“We have given the new board a huge task, a new mandate, which I’m looking forward to release on Monday (tomorrow). I will release a clear document, which will detail what the Government expects from them as to their short-term, medium-term and long-term plans. We have already agreed in principle with them and we are now expecting the implementation matrix and I will be meeting them once a month to be appraised on progress and their intentions so that we manage the process,” said Adv Chasi.
He said members of the public should be privy to the operations being undertaken by the Zesa Holdings board since electricity plays a vital part in the country’s economy.
“The board is expected to reveal everything that it will have undertaken. There won’t be anything that will be hidden because they (board) should appraise the public as well. Industrialists should always be aware of what’s taking place around them, to enable them to plan effectively and they should be aware that at such a particular time there will be no electricity so that they inform their workforce not to report for duty.
“Information should be in the public domain within the shortest of periods so that members of the public will have confidence on the utility and build that continuity,” said Adv Chasi.
The recently appointed Zesa Holdings board is chaired by Dr Sydney Gata with other board members being Mr Ashok Chakravati, Ms Rosemary Siyachitema, Mrs Caroline Mathonsi, Mr James Muzangaza, Mr Jonathan Wood, Ms Stella Nkomo, Mr Wadzanai Chigwa, Mr Peace Rugube and Mr Eliab Chikwenhere.
Adv Chasi also said the Government was making concerted efforts to offset its outstanding debt to the South African power generator, Eskom.
“We are still committing ourselves to paying Eskom and we are making payment of about US$900 000 (a month) and at the moment there are no hiccups with regards to payment of the debt but we are working on coming up with a structure on ensuring we expedite clearing the debt so that we start afresh to negotiate for a new deal. It won’t be easily achievable but we hope to have settle it next year. It’s also important to note that the power we are importing is very expensive and if we pay up, we will also concentrate on working on various projects to improve our supplies . . . ,” he said.
Adv Chasi further noted that the power utility was also making concerted efforts to recover more than $1 billion from defaulting customers.
“The debt owed to Zesa by consumers stretches for a number of years and it’s trying its best to recover its debts and, in the process, it is also facing litigations from a number of customers who are not satisfied with the process.
“However, the whole idea is not to threaten people but we should bear in mind that the debt is very huge and cuts across various categories such as commercial, mining, agriculture and domestic. Government (departments) has fully settled its debt but industry, local authorities and domestic are the ones that still owe Zesa,” he said.