Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Dora Siliya has described the country’s continued power outages as an emergency.
Ms. Siliya says Government is mobilizing more money to pay Eskom of South Africa for the importation of power.
The Chief Government spokesperson says Eskom has offered to supply Zambia with power for 6 months but that government as at now can only afford to buy power for two months.
Ms. Siliya said this when she featured on a programme dubbed ‘ Diamond Connection ‘ on Diamond Television.
She explained that from the 690 megawatts of power deficit that the country is facing, there is need to import at least 3 hundred and 50 megawatts.
Ms. Siliya said Government plans to handle the power deficits permanently when Kafue Lower Gorge power station starts producing 7 hundred and 50 megawatts and commencement of power generation at Kalungwishi power station and setting up of a power station in Luapula.
She reiterated the call for ZESCO to have cost reflective tariffs to encourage investments in the sector.
Yesterday, South Africa’s Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan revealed that ZESCO owes that country’s power utility Eskom R89m (around K81 million).
This was revealed in a parliamentary reply by Mr. Gordhan in response to a question posed by the opposition Democrat Alliance.
Mr Gordhan said Mozambique and Zimbabwe are some of the other neighboring countries that owe Eskom bringing the total debt amount to R632m.
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa Holdings) owes Eskom R322m, Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM) owes R221m.
He said the three foreign state-owned power utilities owe Eskom R632m in outstanding payments.
The DA said while Gordhan may be of the view that R632m would have a minimal impact on Eskom’s cash flow, in reality every cent counted when the power utility had debt of about R420bn.
Half a billion rands is an astonishing amount of money and could, in the long term, go a long way in stabilising the financial woes at Eskom,” said DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone.
“As such, the DA has written to minister Gordhan to request that he makes public the payment plans that Eskom has with these foreign governments which owe the utility millions in unpaid debt,” she said.
She said in addition to the R632m owed by these foreign power utilities, Eskom was also owed close to R20bn in outstanding debt by municipalities across South Africa.
“Clearly Eskom is incapable of collecting debts both at home and abroad. This begs the question: does Eskom actually have plans in place to collect debts owed to it?”
“If not, the utility will never be able to stabilise its cash flow, and the taxpayer will continue to pay for bailout after bailout,” Mazzone said.