Here’s why Zimbabwe faces worst power cuts in 3 years

HARARA (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s state power utility imposed the worst rolling blackouts in three years on Monday, with households and industries including mines set to be without electricity for up to eight hours daily.

The power cuts are bound to stoke mounting public anger against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government as Zimbabweans grapple with an economic crisis that has seen shortages of U.S. dollars, fuel, food and medicines as well as soaring inflation that is eroding earnings and savings.

Many Zimbabweans say life is getting harder and that Mnangagwa is failing to deliver on pre-election promises last year to rebuild an economy shattered during Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), citing reduced output at its largest hydro plant and ageing coal-fired generators, said power cuts would start on Monday and last up to eight hours during morning and evening peak periods.

The country last experienced such serious blackouts in 2016 following a devastating drought.

Isaac Kwesu, chief executive of Chamber of Mines, which groups Zimbabwe’s biggest mining companies said critical industries like mining should be spared from the black-outs, locally known as load shedding.

“Mining requires electricity for both operations and safety. It will be very costly to have production stoppages, that is why we will be engaging ZETDC to find ways to minimize any costly disruptions due to the electricity cuts,” Kwesu told Reuters.

Mining accounted for more than two-thirds of Zimbabwe’s $4.8 billion in total export earnings last year and any power cuts in the sector will affect production and exports.

In the past, some of the big mines, including platinum and gold producers, have resorted to directly importing electricity from neighbouring countries like Mozambique and South Africa.

“The power shortfall is being managed through load shedding in order to balance the power supply available and the demand,” ZETDC said in a public notice.

Zimbabwe is also experiencing shortages of fuel, forcing motorists to queue for hours and the government has so far failed to deliver on previous promises to end the shortage.

The southern African nation, which is producing 969 MW daily against peak demand of 2,100 MW, is entering its peak winter power demand season, which will increase electricity consumption.

Energy and Power Development Minister Joram Gumbo was quoted by a local newspaper saying he would travel to Mozambique this week to try to agree an electricity supply deal with that country’s power utility Hydro Cahora Bassa.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

Related Content

Zimbabwe suspends stock exchange, mobile payments over ‘economic sabotage’

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe on Friday suspended trade on the stock exchange and mobile phone-based payments to address what President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s...

Botswana issues maiden power generation licences to private producers

GABORONE (Reuters) - Botswana issued its first licences allowing three private companies to generate their own power which will mostly be destined...

Zimbabwe tightens coronavirus lockdown in capital Harare as cases hit 203

Zimbabwean troops and police on Tuesday tightened the coronavirus lockdown in the capital Harare, blocking many cars and buses from entering the central business district as cases of infections increased.

Op-Ed: Zimbabwean opposition activists charged following their own abduction

On Tuesday, May 26, authorities in Zimbabwe charged three activists from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change-Alliance (MDC-A) with breaching the country’s lockdown regulations, nearly two weeks after they were allegedly abducted and brutalised after being taken into police custody.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC AFRICA delivered to your inbox

More from CNBC Africa

Omnia delivers solid results from a stabilised business

South Africa's biggest fertilizer producer Omnia was profitable in the year to March after extensively restructuring its business units. Omnia CEO, Seelan Gobalsamy joins CNBC Africa to breakdown the results.

South Africa has bad record on keeping budget promises: Fitch

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa has a poor track record of implementing debt and spending reductions plans, ratings firm Fitch said on...

Africa’s top publisher to close South African publications, cut jobs

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African media and e-commerce group Naspers plans to lay off more than 500 employees and close a number...

Battles rages for control of the National Lottery

Ithuba says Hosken Conslidated Investment's constant legal attacks are an attempt to take back control of the National Lottery from a black business woman. Charmaine Mabuza, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ithuba joins CNBC Africa for more.

Partner Content

Maktech’s Godwin Makyao: Now Is A Time of Entrepreneurial Opportunity in East Africa

As an executive decision-maker in both the telecommunications and tourism industries, Godwin Makyao could not have experienced a more diverse set of...

Sanlam launches urgent job-preservation initiative in response to COVID-19

Sanlam Investments is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through large-scale support of the recovery of South African companies, from small enterprises to...

Trending Now

WHO acknowledges ‘evidence emerging’ of airborne spread of COVID-19

But in an open letter to the Geneva-based agency, published on Monday in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined evidence that they say shows floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in.

Zimbabwe’s health minister, accused of corruption, sacked: statement

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has sacked health minister Obadiah Moyo with immediate effect for inappropriate conduct, a statement from...

Senegal slave island, moved by George Floyd’s death, renames Europe Square

“But we also said to ourselves...that in another sense it is celebrating the persecutor,” he said. “What happened to George Floyd was the final straw.”

Ivory Coast’s 2020 growth seen sliding to 0.8% due to pandemic

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast’s gross domestic product growth is expected to slow to 0.8% in 2020 compared to a previous forecast...
- Advertisement -