Zimbabwe begins power cuts

Zimbabwe has started rolling power cuts lasting up to eight hours that will also hit mines, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) said on Monday.

ZETDC said in a public notice that the cut was due to a reduced output at both the largest hydro plant and ageing coal-fired generators.

ZETDC said power cuts, known locally as load shedding, would start on Monday and would last up to eight hours during morning and evening peak periods.

“The power shortfall is being managed through load shedding in order to balance the power supply available and the demand’’ the firm said.

Analysts said that the power cuts would add to mounting public anger against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government as Zimbabweans grappled with an economic crisis.

Zimbabweans have seen shortages of U.S. dollars, fuel, food and medicines as well as soaring inflation that has eroded earnings and savings.

Isaac Kwesu, Chief Executive of Chamber of Mines, which groups Zimbabwe’s biggest mining companies, did not answer his mobile phone when contacted for comment.

Mining accounts for more than three-quarters of Zimbabwe’s export earnings and any power cuts in the sector will affect production and exports.

In the past, some of the big mines, including platinum and gold producers, have resorted to directly importing electricity from neighbouring countries like Mozambique and South Africa.

Zimbabwe last experienced its worst power shortages in 2016, following a devastating drought.

The southern African nation, which is producing 969 MW daily against peak demand of 2,100 MW, is entering its peak winter power demand season, which will increase electricity consumption.

Minister of Energy and Power Development, Joram Gumbo, said he would travel to Mozambique this week to try to agree an electricity supply deal with that country’s power utility Hydro Cahora Bassa.  

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