Eskom load shedding

Photo by Iván Rivero from Pexels

Platinum miners help Zimbabwe pay its Eskom debt

Zimbabwe continue to make weekly payments to Eskom and Mozambique power supplier HBC with the help of platinum miners.

Eskom load shedding

Photo by Iván Rivero from Pexels

Zimbabwe’s top three platinum miners have reportedly helped settle the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) a $10 million part payment to Eskom.

Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki are said to have bailed out the government following the electricity supplier’s move to impose stage two of load-shedding. The country has been undergoing 18 hours per day without power, affecting the miners’ day-to-day operations.

Zesa paying back Eskom

Miners pooled funds to purchase the electricity on behalf the debt-stumped Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority( Zesa) on July 1 this year.

An unnamed cabinet minister confirmed that mining companies bailed out the beleaguered Zesa and Zetdc.

“As a principle, we are working very well with the miners,” a cabinet minister told the Standard, under the cloak of anonymity.

“I know very well that it is their desire to be assured of power. They really would like to be part and parcel of the resolution of our current power challenges.

“Certainly the structure that you are making reference to has been spoken about and we support it.”

Confirmations and denials

Mimosa MP Fungayi Makoni confirmed that the company assisted the government.

“Mimosa contributed US$10 million towards the reduction of the Zesa debt to Eskom and HCB (of Mozambique) in January 2019. The amount is a prepayment for energy units and will allow, and also ensure security of power supply to our mine operations in Zvishavane,” Makoni said.

Anglo American-linked Unki’s chief finance officer Colin Chibafa, denied helping the government.

“Unki did not grant any financial assistance to Zesa or the government of Zimbabwe a month ago to help them settle Zesa’s indebtedness to Eskom,” Chibafa said.

“In an effort to help secure power supplies for our mine, Unki is, however, engaged in discussions with Zesa to explore options on how it can help Zesa. Nothing has been finalised to date.”

Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi said last week that government ha initiated talks with HCB to secure additional power from Mozambique.

“With regard to HCB, all along we have been engaged in low-level negotiations with them. We have now escalated the discussions by sending our technical team to go and engage them regarding the possibilities around the debt that we owe and which we intend to pay,” Chasi said.

“The payment of the debt is a key strategy. We are paying US$890 000 per week, and we intend to do that without failure as we are trying by all means not to disappoint our neighbours,” Chasi said.

Eskom’s own problems

Eskom have a raft of problems of their own and Zimbabwe settling their debt will be a drop in the ocean of their financial woes.

This week it was revealed that the Eskom Group staff headcount decreased by 4% from 48 628 to 46 665 between 31 March 2018 and 31 Mar 2019, but the total employee costs increased by 13% from R29,45bn to R33,2bn over the same period. 

The company continues to be a burden to the South African economy and and could drive the country back into junk status.