By Thomas Mupfuka
Zimbabwe’s top three platinum miners are said to have helped settle the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) $10 million part payment to the South African electricity supplier Eskom last month, sources have revealed.
According to sources, Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki are said to have bailed out the government following the electricity supplier’s move to impose stage two of
load-shedding which saw the country undergoing 18 hours per day without power supplies, which was affecting the miners’ day-to-day operations.
In turn, the miners pooled funds to purchase the electricity on behalf the debt-stumped Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority( Zesa) on July 1 this year.
A Cabinet minister, who requested anonymity, confirmed the development to the Standardbusiness, but could not give more details of the arrangement.
“As a principle, we are working very well with the miners. I know very well that it is their desire to be assured of power, so they really would like to be
part and parcel of the resolution of our current power challenges, and certainly the structure that you are making reference to has been spoken about and we
support it,” the Cabinet minster said this week.
Following the payment, Eskom unlocked 450 megawatts of electricity in the national grid which has seen the country moving into stage one of load-shedding.
Zimplats, public relations officer Busi Chindove promised to comment on the matter, but had not responded by the time of going to print.
Mimosa MP Fungayi Makoni confirmed that the company assisted government.
“Mimosa contributed US$10 million towards the reduction of the Zesa debt to Eskom and HCB (of Mozambique) in January 2019. The amount is a prepayment for
energy units and will allow, and also ensure security of power supply to our mine operations in Zvishavane,” Makoni said.
Anglo American-linked Unki’s chief finance officer Colin Chibafa, denied helping government.
“Unki did not grant any financial assistance to Zesa or the government of Zimbabwe a month ago to help them settle Zesa’s indebtedness to Eskom,” Chibafa said.
“In an effort to help secure power supplies for our mine, Unki is, however, engaged in discussions with Zesa to explore options on how it can help Zesa.
Nothing has been finalised to date.”
Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi told journalists last week that government had now initiated talks with HCB in an effort to secure
additional power from that country.
“With regard to HCB, all along we have been engaged in low-level negotiations with them. We have now escalated the discussions by sending our technical team to
go and engage them regarding the possibilities around the debt that we owe and which we intend to pay,” Chasi said.
“The payment of the debt is a key strategy. We are paying US$890 000 per week, and we intend to do that without failure as we are trying by all means not to
disappoint our neighbours,” Chasi said.
He added that government was also working on more arrangements to ensure additional power supply in a deliberate way that targets the continuity of business.