Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
Power outages bedevilling the country are a result of low water levels at Lake Kariba and Government is working on a robust system premised on harnessing solar energy to avert power shortages, President Mugabe said yesterday.
Addressing zanu-pf supporters and Government officials gathered at the Harare International Airport to welcome him from the from the US where he attended the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York yesterday, President Mugabe said Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge did not generate electricity, hence it was wrong to blame him for the power blackouts.
Dr Undenge came under a barrage of attacks from the media recently, ostensibly for failing to address the power situation in the country.
People, the President said, should desist from the habit of trying to score cheap political points through blame games.
“Nyaya yemagetsi chinzwai vamwe vangangova nekushora Minister Undenge. Minister Undenge haasiye anogaya magetsi. (On the issue of electricity, some may want to blame Minister Undenge. He is not the one who generates electricity).
“Electricity is generated by drawing water from Kariba Dam through the turning of turbines. When dam levels are low, the generating capacity is also low. This previous year we received low rainfall,” he said.
President Mugabe said water flows from the equatorial regions in countries such as Angola that feed into Zambezi River were also low, thereby contributing to the low production of power at Kariba Hydro Power Station.
As such, the President said, all countries that relied on hydro power from Zambezi River were being affected.
“We were warned before that this year water levels will be low and as such power generation will be low as well,” he said.
“We also generate thermal power from Hwange. We have six generating units there, just like in Kariba.
“The challenge that we have with thermal power from Hwange is that coal has some impurities that disrupt smooth running of the machinery and that requires constant cleaning.
“When cleaning the machinery, they switch off some of the units resulting in low generation of power. We then proposed for quick implementation of alternative power sources that do not require water or coal such as solar.
“We said harness that heat from the sun and convert it into electricity — that is the solar energy we are talking about — electricity from the sun.
“What is expensive are the panels used to draw the heat. If you look along Airport Road there are some small solar panels fitted to harness solar power. So all this requires time to implement and as such power outages are inevitable not only here in Zimbabwe but in other countries such as Zambia and South Africa.
“We have to wait for the rains and the work that is underway to harness solar energy. After that our country will have abundant power. We could have done some of these things long back but we have shortage of resources as a country.”
President Mugabe said industry should exploit the availability of electricity at night for maximum production.
“Saka regai Minister Undenge handiye ane simba raMwari kwete,” he said.
“Zvino vamwe vanobva vati tamuwanira pano tange tisingamude kuti atitungamirire. Aiwa. Ndozvatisingade izvozvo zvekupa munhu mhosva yaasina. He is the chairman for Manicaland province. He is the chairman and no one else.
“Iye zvino kwange kwaita bishi Mai Mugabe vakati ndoda kuenda kuManicaland asi rwendo rwuno ndange ndisingade mudhorobha ndange ndichida kuenda kuvanhu kunze. Zvino hezvo hanzi ngavatouya kuSakubva. Ivo vari kuti kwete ndoda kuenda kuvanhu kuSakubva ndaita, ndaita.
“Minister Undenge had proposed that she should come to Chimanimani and they said no we don’t want because you want the First Lady to come to your constituency.
“Who said if you are the chairman the First Lady does not visit your area? Kusanzwanana ikoko ndiko kunotiunzira bopoto risina mviro mviro dzakanaka. So we don’t want that,” the President said.
President Mugabe hailed the security forces for maintaining the peace prevailing in the country.
He said in line with the country’s economic blueprint Zim-Asset, Government had imported enough maize to feed those facing food shortages.
President Mugabe said through the Ministry of Labour and Social Services Government was ready to assist its citizens both in urban and rural areas.
He urged the able-bodied in the society to assist others including those who lost their jobs and the vulnerable in rural areas.