- December 8, 2019
- Posted in LOCAL
IT will no longer be business as usual for boards under the purview of the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, as Government is crafting a raft of measures to monitor their performance including subjecting them to routine public scrutiny.
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.
He said a comprehensive document spelling out the guidelines and mandates to be adhered to by the boards would be released this week.
This comes as Minister Chasi’s appointment of Dr. Sydeny Gata as executive Zesa chairman continues to attract sharp criticism from corporate governance proponents who argue such positions should cease to exist in public entities.
But argues Minister Chasi: “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 board since electricity plays a vital part in national economic development.
“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 board is chaired by Dr. Gata with the other board members being Professor 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 present moment there are no hiccups with regards to payment of the debt, but we are working on coming up with structures in ensuring that 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 settled 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.
Zesa owes Eskom about US$22 million, but has promised to regularly make payments in order to keep the power imports flowing.
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 they are trying their best to recover these debts and, in the process, also facing litigation 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 consumers are the ones that still owe Zesa,” he said.
Government departments owe Zesa Holdings more than $100 million.
The Sunday Mail