Waiting for the rains


A case of discrimination

The current power crisis has everyone in Zimbabwe in a twist and even the President has chirped in on the matter. One could therefore be forgiven for thinking this was something that, due to some unforeseen misadventure or chance, has befallen us out of the blue.

Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact, as far as the people in my neighbourhood and I am concerned, the only difference between the current drastic power cuts and those we have had to endure in times past is that in the current scenario the country’s power generation capacity is now so low that the Big Chefs are now feeling the effects too.


You see, after almost four years in my neighbourhood I have the atrocious electricity supply schedule all worked out. From December to March we have long power cuts that sometimes last weeks and are attributed to thunderstorms. So incompetent are the ZESA staff in my area that even the slightest hint of guti weather knocks  the local substation out.

You could fry the whole thing just by tossing a cup of water over it. The thing trips an average of 50 times a week during the wet summer months. It has been happening for years and the rude ZESA attendants regularly demand bribes in broad daylight just so they can switch power back on.

If the local ZESA talent is anything to go by its no wonder they cannot figure out what went wrong when they tried to bring one of the Hwange generators back online.

In the Months of May to August, we have power cuts that last for 16 hours a day as our suburb is discriminated against because we do not have a Big Chef residing in it. These power cuts are attributed to high winter demand exceeding generation capacity and fictitious winter wheat farming. From September to November the same lengthy power cuts are blamed on scheduled maintenance and the cycle continues.

The thing is, for so long corrupt individuals, especially the higher ups and top side, have been insulating themselves from power cuts hence have not seen the need to change the status quo as they were not affected. I know a lot of people who have boasted to me in the past that they are not affected by power cuts because so and so lives in their neighbourhood and have laughed at my plight.

We have adapted

After years of whinging and complaining to no avail as most people dismissed my concerns due to them being unaffected, I have been investing in alternative sources of energy. Why, I even shared the solution with you. Now when it comes to ZESA I just don’t care. I have succeeded in making them irrelevant.

The government’s proposed solution to the current problem.

Has anyone else ever noticed how uncompromising our government is when it comes to making others do things for the greater good? It seems every other morning I wake up to find some minister/ government official issuing a deadline to some offending party.

MNOs were given a deadline to share infrastructure,vendors were given a deadline, motorists, kombis, teachers, schools and recently University Lecturers, just to mention a few, were all given strict deadlines as well as treated to threats and demands.

When it comes to themselves the ministers often give themselves and their charges a pass. With the way it’s ruining the economy, you would be forgiven for thinking ZESA should feature as an urgent matter demanding concrete solutions but that does not seem to be the case.

The government’s most trusted solution according to the country’s Energy officials is for us to wait for the rain season. In which case we will revert back to our normal load shedding schedule!

Where is a deadline for ZESA and ZPC? Where is an ultimatum for ZBC? or any of the government’s under-performing branches and parastatals?

What about all those solar projects we were promised back in 2013?

If you were one of those deluded people somehow banking on the solar projects to alleviate our current problem you will be pleased to know that despite all the jingles and promises we were given, work has not even begun on them.

Apparently, the State Procurement Board is to blame as it failed to reissue some of the tenders as our much vaulted Chinese friends failed to maintain their low tender prices. The tenders are still to be issued,  and I am speculating here, perhaps because none of the bidders have a Big Chef backing them. The blame game is still going on so we have to wait for that to end before we see progress.

Other solutions

Besides waiting for the rain, the government has other hare brained schemes. Among them is a silly plan to ban geysers in a bid to reduce demand. There are a lot of things wrong about this.

First due to power cuts the geysers are off to begin with. Second, most people I know switch them on at night in order to save on the electricity bills. Third the power savings are nowhere near the what the government is speculating. 300 MW my foot!Fourth how are they going to enforce this ban? By going door to door demanding people switch off their geysers? In my opinion the ban is as stupid as banning motor vehicles from roads because they are causing potholes.

These bans are characteristic of our tough talking government that resorts to bans and threats instead of doing what the South African government does and engaging the public. Besides, didn’t we ban filament bulbs a while ago? How much did that help us? The government should blame itself, give itself one of those ultimatums and work on a solution instead of blaming people for using electricity!

The most banal of suggestions is that Zimbabwe will be exporting power by 2018. Under a headline that gives the false impression that the current power crisis is a thing of the past, something I would never believe even if I currently had power, the Minister of Energy said that the government had intensified the implementation of various power projects without naming one of these power projects.

Under these mysterious projects the country will be producing 4 000 MW by 2018 which means we will be exporting 1 900 MW in the region. The project requires $13 billion dollars. The government is struggling to pay civil servants and to balance a $4 billion budget where on earth will they get $13 billion? What’s next? Giant hamster wheels that will produce 60 GW?

Now available at ZESA, hamster wheels chargers for your smartphones. Cats can work too. Image credit
Now available at ZESA, hamster wheel chargers for your smartphones. Cats can work too. Image credit

The truth is simple folks, its just talk and more talk. The anxious among you will have to be patient and wait for the rains, if they do come given the Met department has forecast another drought this year. But I wouldn’t worry much considering they are the government department which forecasted a normal rain season last year. Only if the rain comes will we get back to normal load shedding provided your substation is nothing like mine of course.

In the meantime, just take my advice, go buy yourself a generator or a solar system because even if the rain comes this problem is only going to get worse.

Image credit:zimbojam.

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