Another dark winter ahead for Zimbabwe

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Winters in Zimbabwe remind me of the observation experiment we used to do in Form One. Our science teacher would bring in three beakers: one with water from the fridge, one with water at room temperature and another with warm water.

He would make us place one hand in the cold water and the other in the warm water for a few minutes and then quickly pull out both hands and place them in the water at room temperature. The hand from the cold water would feel warm, the hand from the warm water would feel cold. Morale of the story is, even if the geography books tell us the winters here are mild, they are just as bad as and feel like those famous Siberian winters to us.

The Zimbabwean government keeps failing

A familiar feature of our winters here is the power cuts that come like regular clockwork each winter when we need our electricity the most. According to the government, it’s going to be the same this year. We are already seeing load-shedding during the peak evening hours. The minister of energy has just given us confirmation.

We have engaged our usual power utilities and others in the region but they told us that they will not be able to supply us.

Forecast demand is about 1400 MW against internal generation of 1200 MW, we will have a deficit of 200MW. We will resort to load shedding but it will not be severe; not more than two hours per day and this will not disrupt major economic activities…

Zesa is also looking at bringing back unit 5 at Hwange on the weekend and this should help us boost supplies.

Zimbabwe’s Energy and Power Development Minister, Zhemu Soda on the issue of impending powercuts

In the past a number of reasons have been given:

  • Winter wheat farming is taking up all our power. Never mind the fact that we keep importing wheat for some reason. Where the mysterious winter wheat bumper harvests go is anyone’s guess.
  • Increased demand because evil people are selfishly switching on their geysers. The government has banned electric geysers ever since and nothing has changed.
  • Defaulters not paying their bills preventing the government from importing electricity. Never mind the bulk of domestic consumers are on prepaid meters. In fact, the government is one of the biggest defaulters.

However you want to look at it, it’s the government’s fault. They run ZESA and its subsidiary ZPC which has been failing to meet the demand for the past 20+ years. It’s the government’s duty as the operators of ZESA to make sure that they improve Zimbabwe’s power generation capacity. It’s a task the government has just simply failed at.

Now they are talking about exploring the use of nuclear energy in order to solve this issue. My colleague has already examined the feasibility and viability of such an option for Zimbabwe with grace and kindness in this article. I am not one for such kindness-it’s typical government nonsense I am afraid. It is not going to happen.

Let me explain. For some reason, our government officials sometimes do take a break from issuing threats and surprise bans and when they do, they go into throes of euphoria during which they make the most wonderous pronouncements and promises that have no hope of seeing the light of day. It’s either that or they are signing big figure mega-deals that go nowhere.

Let just look at such pronouncements issued in recent weeks:

  • Us going nuclear-again my colleague has so eloquently examined this option
  • Every police roadblock will be now monitored online in order and computerised.
  • Every school must have 41 computers by 2030. Everything about 2030 reminds me of all the vision 2020 governments used to make back in the day. Look at how 2020 turned out to be. Plus there are schools that take place under a tree, where will they plug the computers?

I could go on to mention the whole satellite launching thing from a few budgets ago but that just being petty-no sense in proving what we all already know is there? Experience has taught me to be sceptical when a Utopian project is promised where a simple solution would do. The government should be focusing on simple projects that would easily solve our problems.

  • Making sure Hwange is stable- despite years of announcements and upgrades it keeps failing, resulting in power-cuts
  • Take charge of the Wicknell project and give it to a deserving company that can actually carry out the project. It should be done by now.
  • While at it, implement all the solar projects that we were promised in 2013. Projects like Mashaba and Ugesi have shown that it’s not rocket science-no more satellite jokes I promise. Without corruption and nepotism building a solar grid shouldn’t take decades. Give the tender to a company like DPA and not another briefcase company.
  • Stop talking about Batoka and do it for once. This project was identified in the 1970s and it would fix all this mess. I am betting it will be much easier to see Batoka through than it is to go nuclear.
  • Build small-scale hydroelectric projects to improve supply.

An article written in the dark

Again, a government that cannot revive ZISCO steel or see through a 100MW solar power plant shouldn’t be talking about nuclear energy. They have to know it doesn’t make sense. If I sound angry, remember this article was written during another load-shedding power cut on my phone.


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  1. Juno

    Spot on. Great article

  2. Rach

    Wonderfully scathing

  3. Randall Flagg

    Awesome article. The government talks about building a Nuclear Power Plant but they can’t even maintain the only existing coal power plant we have. They can be very delusional and no one is buying in to that what they say anymore.

  4. John


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