BY Nkululeko Sibanda
South Africa’s power utility, Eskom has finally confirmed receiving the US$10 million payment made by the Zimbabwean government towards a long-standing debt owed for the supply of electricity to Zimbabwe.
Zesa reportedly owes Eskom US$33 million, and the South African power utility had requested that it pays at least US$10 million to consider resuming power exports.
Eskom spokesperson Dikatso Mothae told NewsDay yesterday that the money reflected in the power utility’s account yesterday.
“We would like to officially confirm that the payment made by Zimbabwe (to Eskom) reflected in the Eskom account today (yesterday),” she said.
Mothae said the payment would now open the two parties to discussions on how they would treat issues around the outstanding debt as well as continued supply of electricity to Zimbabwe.
“We will, as parties to the agreement, continue to dialogue with a view of finding a mutually beneficial solution to the outstanding debt. Eskom is a commercial operation and will be guided by the contracts we have in place with Zesa. The discussions will also entail how we will also handle the continued supply of electricity to Zimbabwe against the background of the said debt,” she said.
Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi told NewsDay that his ministry was keen to see the Eskom debt fully serviced and extinguished, despite challenges facing the country.
“I am happy that we have done the right thing, which is to pay Eskom what we can pay at the moment,” Chasi said.
“The work that remains now is to see to it that we extinguish this debt and our indebtedness to Eskom as this will assist us in a great deal in getting power from South Africa.
“Payment of the $10 million is not automatic guarantee that Eskom will give us power like that. We will continue to make our case with Eskom and assure them that we are busy working towards the debt clearance.”
Chasi said the Zimbabwean debt to Eskom would be cleared “on a going basis”.
“We still have a significant debt that we owe Eskom and I am sure that this debt will be paid as we go. I think what is key for us, and for me as the minister responsible, is to make it a point that I reach out to my colleague in South Africa and we will then have a discussion around the matter,” he added.
Meanwhile, Chasi reiterated his calls for local electricity consumers to pay what they owe Zesa, insisting this would help the power utility meet its obligations.
“Zimbabweans, while we have paid US$10 million, this is no guarantee for power. We need to negotiate. The public owes ZWL$350 million. It must be paid,” he said in a tweet yesterday afternoon. NewsDay