By DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Energy minister Fortune Chasi has publicly apologised for the embarrassment he caused after the government misinformed the public that the State had paid a US$10 million to settle a debt with a South African power firm, Eskom.
Chasi announced that government had paid RTGS$20 million as part payment to clear a debt with the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority and another US$10 million to Eskom.
But in a Press statement released last week, Eskom denied receiving the money from the Zimbabwe government.
“Eskom would like to state that no funds have reflected on its account for Zimbabwe’s outstanding debt as at June 28, 2019. This is in response to the announcement made in Zimbabwe and queries that Eskom is receiving regarding the issue. Once Eskom has received the funds, we will then enter into further discussions with Zesa,” Eskom group chief executive Phakamani Hadebe said.
Chasi, who has been conspicuous by his silence on Twitter when people were demanding an explanation, yesterday responded, heaping blame on Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, who he said had the responsibility of paying and had advised him of the development.
Using his Twitter handle, he said Ncube and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mungundya were responsible for the misinformation. He said he relied on what they told him.
“I am sorry I have been unable to respond. I was under the weather too. I have no reason to tell lies about such an important matter. The mechanics of payment to Eskom are with the Ministry of Finance and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). I rely on what I get from there,” Chasi said.
Chasi said he respected the public and wanted them to always get correct information, saying they could not operate the energy sector on falsehoods.
“I prefer that the public gets correct information. We cannot operate the sector on falsehoods, for sure. I am really sorry that I am being termed dishonest. It would be the most foolish of lies.”
But other Twitter users warned Chasi that it was professional and important that on such important matters, he should receive confirmation in writing than believe the word of mouth from his colleagues.
Chasi, however, replied that he was entitled to act on verbal statements by colleagues and did not believe it was a hoax, and still believes the payment will go through since it was an international payment.
The Energy minister is also not sure if the RTGS$20 million alleged to have been paid went through. NewsDay