Sunday 9 July 2023


UNTIL recently Mr Martin Mutava would wake up at 9pm before driving to his shop at Mkoba 6 shopping centre in Gweru to push the urgent orders for his clients until 5am.

Mr Mutava is one of the thousands of Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Gweru and across the country who had turned night-time into a normal working shift due to power cuts.

These entrepreneurs will capitalise on the off-peak night slot from around 10pm when power was restored by the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) before being disconnected in the morning under a tight load-shedding regime.

Mr Mutava is into welding and together with peers who are into fields such as typing, printing, photocopying and scanning were losing business. Others that had been affected by load shedding included those in upholstery, small grinding mills, furniture and hair salons whose source of livelihood was adversely affected by the prolonged power cuts of up to 16 hours.

The situation is now different after Zimbabwe recently increased its domestic power generation following the commissioning of Hwange Units 7 and 8, which are now both on stream while more output is also being derived from Kariba Hydro-Power Station and independent power producers.

It is not only domestic consumers who are now guaranteed power supplies but also industries and farmers are benefiting.

“Life was tough during the load-shedding period, I tell you. I had turned into a night worker because I would start to work at 10pm when power was restored and finish at 5am when the power was cut off,” said Mr Matava.

“I lost many contracts due to load shedding and I am grateful to the Government for improved power distribution because I am now back in business full time and working from 7am to 5pm.

Amos Chibaya who is into carpentry said the crippling power cuts had frustrated many SMEs.

“It’s hard to wake up and go to work from 10PM. There are robbers to be wary of and working under makeshift lighting was difficult for me as a carpenter.

“But now we are working normally and meeting targets, which is a welcome development,” he said.

Mr Tineyi Sibanda, who is into panel beating, said he had resorted to using a generator, which was not sustainable as the cost of running it was high.

While it is all joy and smiles for ordinary Zimbabweans and SMEs, firewood sellers have been hard hit as their business is plummeting because people are no longer buying firewood for cooking.

Firewood sellers in suburbs such as Mkoba 1, Mkoba 6, and also those who moved around with scotch carts told this publication that residents no longer have a huge appetite for their products.

“I would make at least US$20 per day from selling firewood but now, at times, I go home without a cent. When people have power, they don’t need firewood or charcoal and that is driving us out of business,” said one of the traders, Mr Nkosilathi Gumbo.

“I am thinking of looking elsewhere to eke a living because if the situation continues like this I will definitely fail to fend for my family.”

In June 2018, President Mnangagwa led proceedings at the ground-breaking ceremony for the US$1,5 billion Hwange 7 and 8 power expansion project.

Completion of the project has seen Zimbabwe increasing its total power output to about 1 500MW from as low as less than 600MW in March this year.

Power China, which synchronised the Hwange Thermal Power Station, recently said: “Unit 7 of Hwange Power Plants was officially integrated into the national grid, adding 300MW of electricity to the national grid.” Herald


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