How Much Does ZESA Really Owe ESKOM & Hydro Cahora Bassa?

After noting that varying figures have so far been used to enumerate the debt the Zimbabwe power utility, ZESA owes to ESKOM and Hydro Cahora Bassa, Pindula News decided to have an article dedicated entirely on the matter. Figures which have been used in the media include US$68 million US$80 and US$83.

The Zimbabwe Independent on 20 October 2017 reported that:

…Zesa owes its local and international suppliers close to US$1 billion and is only managing to service interest accrued on loans without settling premiums…

The Herald reported on 3 June 2019 that Zesa acting chief executive Engineer Patrick Chivaura said:

We owe $33 million to Eskom and $35 million to HCB.

The Herald reports that Eng Chivaura also said that adding the total debt for power imports was US$80 million. This report combined with that of the Zimbabwe Independent would suggest that the US$12 million (80 subtract 68) is owed to local suppliers.

The Sunday News reported on 9 June 2019 that ZESA owed a combined US$80 million. The publication quotes ZESA spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira who said:

We have always been importing but our imports are largely from those with excess, which is Eskom of South Africa and HCB from Mozambique but unfortunately these imports have to be paid and we have not been paying per manner that has pleased our suppliers so we are now owing them about US$80 million between the two of them.

Meanwhile, ZTN News reported on 20 June 2019 that the power utility owed a combined US$68 million. The publication said:

Harare is experiencing crippling power shortages due to reduced generation capacity at Kariba Hydro Power Station, and intends to import 400MW on top of the 50MW it is already receiving from South Africa.

A US$33 million debt, however, stands in the way. Zimbabwe also owes Mozambique’s Hidroeléctrica de Cahora Bassa US$35 million.

On 23 June 2019, Fin24 suggested that ZESA owed a combined US$83 million. The publication posted:

Over the years it (Zimbabwe) has relied on Eskom and Mozambique’s HCB for additional power.

However a combined debt of US$83m to the two entities had meant limited supply of just 50MW from each.

In short, ZESA officials are giving contradicting statements. Gwasira said a combined US$80 million is owed to ESKOM and HCB but Chivaura said the figure is US$68 million. Since Chivaura also mentions the figure US$80 million as the total debt, probably the variance (80 -68 = 12) is owed to local suppliers.

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