Government has no intention to dismantle Zesa and place the power utility in private hands as envisaged by the Electricity Amendment Act passed by Parliament during the subsistence of the inclusive Government this year, a Cabinet Minister has said. The Act has since been declared a legal nullity.
Energy and Power Development Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire said contrary to the Electricity Amendment Act, that sought to unbundle Zesa, his ministry would not allow that to happen as that was not consistent with Government policy and the Zanu-PF manifesto.
“The position is that I have no intention of dismantling Zesa,” said Minister Mavhaire last night.
“There is no way I can put Zesa in private hands.
“The only set up where we will allow private players is under the arrangement of Independent Power Producers that we have licensed.”
Clerk of Parliament Mr Austin Zvoma has since written to the Registrar of the High Court and the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet demanding the return of Electricity Amendment Act 2013, which sought to unbundle Zesa Holdings into an indeterminate number of privately-owned successor companies.
The planned unbundling and privatisation — which was reportedly being orchestrated by some officials at the Energy and Power Development Ministry in cahoots with former minister Mr Elton Mangoma — would have effectively put the critical power sector into the hands of unknown Western investors picked at Mr Mangoma’s discretion.
Minister Mavhaire last night, described the Act as “null and void.”
He said if firms would be formed under the unbundling of Zesa, Government would have 100 percent stake.
Sources close to developments say everything was being done without the knowledge of Minister Mavhaire, amid reports that officers at Zesa were already working on logos for the new companies, again without the knowledge of the minister.
The Amendment Act was hurried through Parliament by MDC-T legislators, who took advantage of the fact that their Zanu-PF counterparts were holed in their constituencies for the party’s primary elections.
The Bill was passed before being sent for Presidential assent, which was, however, granted after the mandatory 21 days had lapsed, making the resultant Act a legal nullity.
Section 51 of the old Constitution, which was still operational ahead of the effective date of the new Constitution, stated that:
1) Subject to the provisions of section 52 and Schedule 4, the power of Parliament to make laws shall be exercised by Bills passed by the House of Assembly and the Senate and assented to by the President.
(2) When a Bill is presented to the President for assent he shall, subject to the provisions of this section, within twenty-one, days, either assent or withhold his assent.
The Electricity Amendment (No.5 of 2013) Act sought to repeal Section 68 of the Electricity Act (Chapter 13:19) which was to be replaced with a new Section 68 Formation of Successor Companies which stipulates that:
(1) The Minister shall, not later than six months after the fixed date, take such steps as are necessary under the Companies Act (Chapter 24:03) to secure the formation of one or more of the following companies limited by shares, which shall be the successor company or successor companies to the Authority –
(a) a company to take over the electricity generation plants of the Authority;
(b) a company to take over the transmission system of the Authority;
(c) a company to take over from the Authority the distribution and supply of electricity;
(d) such other companies as the Minister may approve.
The proviso, “such other companies as the Minister may approve’’ was a clear blank cheque to Mr Mangoma and crew to do what they wanted with a key state enterprise.
Apart from the personal profit motive, sources say there was also a clear political motive to destroy Zesa or put it beyond the influence of Government which would then have been at the mercy of the private investors linked to the MDC-T.
This would have left the succeeding Zanu-PF Government at the mercy of the investors who would have used power for political leverage as power has been identified as a key enabler of Government’s new economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset).
In pursuit of unconstitutional regime change, MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai is on record asking South Africa to cut off Zimbabwe’s fuel and power supply.