This weekend the country’s sole power utility ZESA announced that the entire country would be experiencing even longer power cuts. Most people are now experiencing about 16 hours of load-shedding per day. The government of Zimbabwe is feeling the wrath of angry citizens calling out their failure to fix the power deficit. In order to sound like they are doing something great the government is now talking about the “awesome” Batoka Power plan again and pretending they are making progress on that front. It’s probably another sideshow and will never come to fruition but what some people must be asking is, what or who is Batoka?

First, we must examine what the government said:

EMA’s “report” on Batoka

Batoka Hydro-electric Scheme (HES) is a proposed project that will be located on the Zambezi River approximately 54 km downstream of Victoria Falls. The project site is located across the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe at Grid Reference 055-178 (scale 1:50000). The project was first conceived back in 1972 and has been wheeled out a couple of times by our government as the panacea to our load-shedding woes. Mega deals that include General Electric and China Power have been announced in the Herald and other state media many many times. None of them has come to fruition because despite what they are saying this is all a distraction. No one really expects work to begin on Batoka anytime soon because for now, it is just a fancy dusty idea from the 1970s.

We are being tricked again

The above screenshot was shared by EMA on their official Twitter account inviting people to comment. Hours later it has one mere comment asking for a link to the full report even though there is a link in the screenshot suggesting that whoever is asking for the link is either too lazy to type it all out or they had encountered a problem while trying to access the full report-more on that later. It is not surprising that there was little engagement on the Tweet. Most people are going through powercuts and those online have better or more entertaining things to do online than visit the official Twitter account of some government agency. In fact, the screenshot on the report was taken using a phone that is hot-spotting another device (s). I am speculating here but the person who Tweeted this probably had no power too.

Anyway if you visit the page with the linked report on https://www.zambezira.org/hydro-electric-schemes/batoka-hes-project as suggested you will hit a speed bump. The web certificate on the said site expired on 23 September 2021 because someone forgot to renew it. Fortunately whoever is administering this website made another mistake which allows you to visit the site despite this even though you will get an error. As the expired certificate on the site suggests, the site has not been updated in a long time. There is no environmental report to be found anywhere. The site has links to speeches by “Minister of Energy Samuel Undenge”. Mr Undenge has not been honourable for a very long time.

This is just the latest weak attempt to make it seem like Batoka is suddenly going to become a reality. There is nothing going on there. There will be nothing going on that front for a long time too. You can expect more noise about solar projects too. Given how briefcase companies have a way of winning bids and contracts do not expect them to become a reality either. You have two options. Wallow in the darkness,embrace it, let it become your permanent friend because it is here to stay. Or you can rouse yourself and buy a generator or get a solar kit. No one is coming to save you. Bathong!

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