South Africa’s debt-stricken state power utility company Eskom, reported a record loss of R20.7 billion (US$1.46 billion) on Tuesday, posing a threat to the nation’s economy, power generation and export to countries such as Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe suffers from a huge power deficit that has crippled industry including telecoms and technology.
Eskom’s loss for the year to March widened from R2.3 billion last year as power sales generated insufficient income to cover operating costs and interest payments.
It’s remains unclear how much ZESA owes Eskom or other foreign suppliers due to conflicting official statements. According to the Herald of 3 June, acting Zesa chief executive Engineer Patrick Chivaura was on record saying Zimbabwe owed US$33 million to Eskom and US$35 million to Mozambique’s Cahora Bassa Hydroelectric Plant (HCB)
Rewind to 18 May, ZESA spokesperson Fullard Gwasira told the Herald that the power utility was lining up stop-gap-measures to mobilize US$80 million to clear what they owed to Eskom and HCB.
Yesterday the Daily News and the Herald reported the government is working towards getting more electricity from Mozambique and South Africa to reduce power cuts.This remains a mammoth task in the absence of full payment of what Harare owes its neighbors for power imports.
Either way, Eskom and HCB have no obligation to give Zimbabwe more electricity before the clearance of debt. Eskom is struggling to ensure that South Africa gets sufficient electricity.
The big question becomes whether or not they are going to be able to spare a few MegaWatts for Zimbabwe. Time will only tell, but as it stands things don’t look good.