Blackout hits as Mnangagwa prepares to deliver Vic Falls speech

27 June 2019 - 17:14 By James Thompson
President Emmerson Mnangagwa
President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Image: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

There was a power outage at a leading Victoria Falls hotel on Thursday, just a minute before President Emmerson Mnangagwa was due to address delegates at the ongoing Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) congress.

A generator was switched on some 30 seconds after the blackout.

"It was a strange moment and we all kept quiet as the hotel authorities tried to salvage the situation," said a delegate at the conference, hosted by Elephant Hills.

When power was restored, the president was ushered to the podium by industry minister Mangaliso Ndlovu.

Zimbabwe is back at stage 2 power cuts, which result in some parts of the country only receiving electricity eight hours a day. The shortage is due to a fault at the Hwange Thermal Power Station, 100km south of Victoria Falls.

Energy minister Fortune Chasi told journalists following a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the government had taken over the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority's (ZESA's) debt to South Africa’s Eskom. Payment of the debt would unlock 400MW of electricity.

At present, Eskom is providing only 50MW because of Zesa’s failure to service its debt.

“The payment of the US$10m to Eskom is really the short-term measure that we can take to ensure that we have sufficient power and also that we address the load-shedding which is at the moment causing a lot of hardships to the public,” the minister said.

He added that the significant payment should help improve the situation because winter had peak energy demands.

"If we are going to get about 400MW, that would be very good because it is going to deal with the spike in consumption that we experience daily," he said.

Mnangagwa has also engaged Mozambique over the payment of money owned to Cahora Bassa.