VICTORIA FALLS– Zimbabwe’s State-run power utility ZESA Holdings on Friday asked the mining industry to help with funding for settling almost $70 million in debts to regional power firms in order to avert a power crisis.

Acting chief executive officer, Patrick Chivaura told delegates during the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe’s annual conference that ZESA stopped paying for imported power from Mozambique and South Africa in October last due to foreign shortages.

The regional power utilities-Eskom of South Africa and Mozambique’s HCB-responded by cutting exports to Zimbabwe, he said.

“We have not been able to pay for our imports since October last year,” Chivaura said.

“There was curtailment of power by Eskom from 450 megawatts (MW) to 50MW. HCB from Mozambique did same. We are only getting 50MW as we speak. Generation at Kariba has been reduced to 358MW. It will cost us $20 million a month to import 600MW, it will cost us $17 million to import 500MW. We do have a payment plan which the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is supporting, but it is nowhere near what Eskom is expecting from us. Next week we are trooping to meet Eskom for a payment plan. We are in this together. It is not a ZESA issue alone. You have been talking about increasing production, but if ZESA does not give you power, your projections will (not be achieved),” he said.

“We have a deficit of between 300MW and 600MW. We now have to do load shedding. We have designed a load shedding plan that will save industries. We are sacrificing domestic consumers. We need to import power when we need it from our regional neighbours. Eskom can give us 400MW that they don’t need at night. We have no choice; we have to import power. We owe $33 million to Eskom and $35 million to HCB,” said Chivaura.