Eskom load shedding

Photo by Iván Rivero from Pexels

Proof of payment slip shows Zimbabwe paid Eskom $10-million for power

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Energy and Power Development has taken to Twitter.

Eskom load shedding

Photo by Iván Rivero from Pexels

Despite fierce denial from national energy supplier, Eskom, a proof of payment document posted by Fortune Chasi, the Minister of Energy and Power Development in Zimbabwe, shows that a whopping $10 million has been paid for power.

In recent months, Zimbabwe has been crippled by an especially grim economic downturn. Electricity and fuel costs have soared, leading to widespread protests – some of which have turned deadly. In an attempt to stave off a complete blackout, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has implemented protracted load shedding measures.

Controversial power-supply arrangement

The load shedding schedule – which leaves areas in darkness for eight to ten hours a day – relates directly to a loss of hydroelectric generation at the Kariba Dam. Maintenance failures at Hwange Power Station – Zimbabwe’s largest thermal power producer – have made matters worse.

As a result, Eskom, South Africa’s national power utility, has been selling electricity to the neighbouring country. While Eskom’s own failures are well documented, the power transferred across the border has mitigated a complete collapse of Zimbabwe’s electrical grid.

The power-sharing deal has not been without controversy, though. In addition to Eskom’s dismal performance on the home ground – and subsequent criticism of its willingness to lend Zimbabwe a helping hand, while load shedding in South Africa remains a not-so-distant memory – payment for the power supplied has come under scrutiny.

Eskom bemoans non-payment

Last week, Chasi announced that Zimbabwe had paid R144 million for a constant supply of 400 megawatts from Eskom. Eskom, however, denied that it had received such a payment and instead issued a statement of its own, saying:

“Eskom would like to state that no funds have been reflected on its accounts for Zimbabwe’s outstanding debt.”

The power utility added that until Zimbabwe’s outstanding debt had been settled, it would not be willing to negotiate further supply arrangements. Naturally, this elicited a panicked response from Zimbabweans.

Zimbabwe hits back with ‘proof’

It also elicited a fair amount of resentment from Chasi, who, on Monday, took to Twitter to clarify his statements and included a proof of payment document, showing that the debt had been settled. The document, detailed ‘Electricity Purchase’ showed that $10 million – or R139 000 000 – had been paid to Eskom. The date was noted as 1 July 2019. The cryptic caption, penned by Chasi, read:

“Lies have short legs. This is what I lied about. I am sorry.”

The Minister of Energy and Power Development in Zimbabwe added:

“Zimbabweans, whilst we have paid 10m$ this is no guarantee for power. We need to negotiate. The public owes 350 million. It must be paid.”

Late Tuesday afternoon, Eskom confirmed that it had received payment from Zimbabwe.