The Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), the authorities in charge of managing Lake Kariba have ordered ZESA’s power generating arm to suspend power generation at Kariba dam in a move that will likely plunge the whole nation of Zimbabwe into darkness. Zimbabweans are already living with incessant load-shedding and if Kariba is shut down it means even longer hours of darkness as only a few power plants will remain.
Guided by the Water Purchase Agreement and the provisions of the ZRA Acts and as the agreed Reservoir Operational Framework under the Joint Technical Committee (JTC), where the Authority and the two Kariba Power Generation Utilities are obligated and have agreed to sustainably operate the reservoir, the Zambezi River Authority is left with no choice but to firmly guide that ZPC/KHPC immediately ensures that generation activities at the South Bank Power Station are wholly suspended henceforth, until January 2023 when a further review of the substantive Hydrological Outlook at Kariba will be undertaken which will include consideration of the total reservoir live storage build-up which would have resulted from a shutdown of the Kariba South Bank Power Station power generation operations.Munyaradzi Munodawafa ZRA CEO
A masterclass in incompetence
The ZRA had no choice but to order ZPC and its Zambian equivalent to shut down due to very low water levels. It seems these two companies have been using more water than they should. The result is that water levels at Kariba are now too low for power generation to continue. Why the authorities did not seem to notice this is anyone’s guess. ZESA and the government have made a habit of being incompetent for years. For years they have gotten away with mismanagement and corruption but now the entire country is paying the price.
- There is a massive power deficit which continues to grow as the government wastes engage in populist moves such as rural electrification while power generation remains depressed
- Due to years of neglect, the ZESA grid is creaky at best and each successive rain season has brought with it a plethora of faults
- Hwange has been equally neglected. Despite empty boasts about upgrades turns out those power upgrades are not yet feeding power to the grid. The government just wants to pretend it has reached a milestone the year before the elections
- Worse, the old power plants at Hwange are well past their expiry dates. They often break down and these are the only ones that are going to be left online.
- While Zimbabwe has a lot of solar power potential that has been squandered due to corruption and incompetence. Wickenell Chivayo is a name synonymous with this saga.