Eskom proof of payment released

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Energy and Power Development Minister,  Fortune Chasi yesterday cleared the air over the US$10 million that the  Government paid to South African power utility Eskom as part  settlement of the country’s electricity debt by releasing proof of  payment.

The move followed accusations last week that he had lied that a payment  had been made to Eskom after the South African power utility denied that  it had received any payment from Zimbabwe.

“Once Eskom has received the funds, we will then enter into further  discussions with Zesa,” Eskom group chief executive Phakamani Hadebe  said last week.

The US$10 million is part payment of a debt of more than US$30 million  owed to the utility, which is currently supplying Zimbabwe  with about 50 megawatts of power.

“Lies have short legs. This is what I lied about. I am sorry,” Minister Chasi  said on Twitter in a sarcastic message accompanying the proof of payment  which was done through Stanbic Bank on Monday.

Finance and Economic Development Permanent Secretary, George  Guvamatanga on Monday came to Chasi’s defence saying he had not lied as  the Government had started the process to make the payment  when he made the announcement.

Zimbabweans have largely become irritable over power issues as the  country is battling a huge deficit that has resulted in the introduction  of massive load shedding, lasting for over 17 hours a day.

Minister Chasi has said the country’s power utility, Zesa Holdings, owed  neighbouring power utilities Eskom and HCB of Mozambique a combined  US$83 million. The two utilities are, however, prepared to supply Zimbabwe with more  power on condition part of the debt is settled.

“Zimbabweans, while we have paid US$10 million  this is no guarantee for  power. We need to negotiate. The public owes $350 million. It must be  paid,” Minister Chasi said.

A combination of drought in the past season and unmaintained generation  equipment at Hwange thermal power station is blamed for the power woes  the country is facing. -  New Ziana.

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