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Is Hwange Unit 7 another huge big scam and con job?

22 Mar 2023 at 07:16hrs | Views
Exterior achitecture of the newly established hwange unit 7 and 8
Is it just me, or has everyone else also noticed that, ever since Hwange Unit 7 Thermal Power Station came online, two days ago, load shedding has strangely increased?

Excuse me for my ignorance as far as these electrical engineering things are concerned - as my wife Tinta is the one sired by a former chief engineer at ZISCOSTEEL, and possibly this runs in her side of the family.

I am more of a straightforward common sense type of guy.

And, whatever does not make sense to me, is usually fishy!

As such, should the country not actually be receiving more electricity, and not less - after this much-hyped 'synchronization' of the new Chinese-built thermal power plant less than 48 hours ago, which was reported as having 'started feeding electricity into the national grid'?

Why, then, has not only the power situation in Zimbabwe not improved, but has evidently deteriorated - with my own home area of Redcliff now going for longer hours switched off?

Maybe I am missing something - but, this definitely appears awfully strange, if not downright suspect.

Both Units 7 and 8 were reportedly constructed at a cost of US$1.4 billion, with a staggering US$1.2 billion being a loan from China - and, the former was expected to have fed an initial 41 MW into the national grid upon its synchronization two days ago, going up to 100 MW by yesterday.

After six hours, the unit was expected to be switched off to carry out checks on whether there had been any leaks or damages to the system during the initial synchronization.

Within 12 hours, and all things being alright, the unit was supposed to be back online and feeding electricity to Zimbabwe - with the hope of generation reaching the installed capacity of 300 MW by June this year.

This was expected to have brought huge relief to a nation that has been facing an unbelievable power crisis for years - characterized by outrages spanning 20 hours each day in most cities and towns.

Based on my simple arithmetic calculations, we have already gone beyond these stipulated time-frames for both the testing and checking for any damages - yet, here we are, still in the dark.

If anything, the situation appears to have worsened - evidenced by the apparent increase in the frequency and length of the power cuts over the past day.

I can excuse the other two days, since this is attributable to both the synchronization process, and the 12 hours, whereby the unit would be under inspection for any damages.

What about today - why did we lose power so early in the morning, well before even the birds awoke?

As I am writing this article, thoroughly appalled with the prevailing situation, I am actually hoping power is restored before I even finish.

That way, maybe I can be certain that my suspicions are nonsensical and the product of pure fantasy - and thereby, delete this article before publication.

However, as things stand right now, I have a very bad feeling about this whole affair.

To make matters worse, this entire 'bringing of Unit 7 online' issue has been quite a controversial one since late last year - when similar assurances were made to the effect that by the end of November the country would be enjoying the fruits of this investment.

Needless to say, in typical Zimbabwe government fashion, nothing of the like ever transpired.

The citizenry - who will inevitably be heavily taxed to foot the US$1.2 billion loan to the Chinese - was left guessing, as both the government and their power utility ZESA (Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority) kept their lips firmly closed, in spite of repeated inquiries by the media.

As to be expected, such mystery only served to heighten suspicions of far much more sinister deeds happening behind the scenes, than the authorities would want Zimbabweans to know.

Let us also not forget that the same mystery surrounds the new US$200 million 650-seat Parliament building - constructed in Mount Hampden, and supposedly 'donated' to the Zimbabwe government, also by the Chinese.

Ever since it was said to have been completed in June 2022 - and even used by President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa to officially open the August House two months later - the structure has laid there unused, with the legislature continuing to be crammed in the tiny colonial building in the capital Harare.


What is going on here?

Are there some 'deals' - which we do not know about, as the ordinary people of Zimbabwe - that have not yet been fulfilled?

In fact, there have been some media reports suggesting that the reason for Hwange Unit 7's continued 'synchronization' delays, was on account of some unfulfilled obligations on the part of the Zimbabwe authorities to their Chinese counterparts.

It is not clear what these are, although some allege the non-payment of an agreed amount before the power plant could be handed over to the Harare administration by Beijing.

We all know what these Chinese are capable of - just ask the Sri Lankans, who lost their second largest port, Hambantota, in 2017 - after failing to pay back a US$1.1 billion loan owed to China.

Interestingly, this is a mere US$100 million less than the amount owed to China by Zimbabwe for the Hwange Thermal Power Station Units 7 and 8!

That is when the Mnangagwa administration will finally awaken to the brutal realization that these are not our 'all weather friends' after all - a lesson Sri Lanka learnt in a fairly painful way.

They will also discover that paying back the US$14 billion owned international lenders, so as to re-open lines of credit, would have been a far better idea.

Western creditors would rather cut off access to any further loans, in case of non-payment - than impound and confiscate properties and assets, as the Chinese have the propensity of doing.

Better still, why not simply use the revenue earned from our vast mineral resources to construct our own infrastructure - instead of looting it for the sole aggrandizement of the ruling class and their cronies?

There is really no justification whatsoever for a country as richly-endowed as Zimbabwe - blessed with over 40 of the most sought-after natural resources in the world - resorting to begging for zvikwereti (loans) for our sustenance and survival.

It is similar to a father who spends his vast fortunes or earnings satisfying his own pleasures - drinking and merry-making with friends, and buying luxurious items for his own enjoyment.

Yet, goes around the neighborhood begging for money to buy his own family food, send his children to school, and put clothes on their backs.

That is what we call 'hurombe' in Shona!

If anything, should we fail to make good on this debt, we may actually find ourselves having to buy electricity from China - who will have taken over Hwange Thermal Power Station.

Of course, I am going way ahead of myself - but, considering China's loan shark menacing reputation - this can never be ruled out.

It is also quite possible that the reason we are still facing power cuts, albeit on an seemingly increased scale - is simply part of this 'synchronization' process, or maybe a problem with Unit 7 was detected after the 12-hour duration - or even there has been another fault elsewhere, such as the other antiquated power generators, which are prone to frequent breakdowns.

We are dealing here with a regime that is notorious for its scandals and shady deals - which have become legendary and a huge international embarrassment for our country.

This is an administration that has absolutely no qualms mortgaging the country for selfish benefits.

Did we not learn of a deal, whereby the Zimbabwe government used platinum reserves worth over US$26 billion (some reports say US$52 billion) as security for a US$200 million loan from China - intended to give high ranking ZANU PF officials, legislators, judges and politically-connected individuals expensive farm equipment, for which they subsequently never paid back?

With this US$26 billion, can you imagine how many power plants we can build for ourselves - without ever asking anyone for a loan?

How many ordinary Zimbabweans actually know the terms of agreements entered into with predominantly Chinese mining companies that are operating in the country - which are also given carte blanche to forcibly displace local communities from their ancestral lands, without any significant benefit in return?

Were entities as Anjin Investments not thrown out of the country in 2016 by then dictator Robert Gabriel Mugabe - after accusations of being involved in prejudicing the nation of over US$15 billion in diamond revenue?

Of course, he was ousted from power just a year later, in a military coup d'├ętat - which was led by then ZDF (Zimbabwe Defence Forces) commander, General Constantino Chiwenga - who had, curiously, just returned from an unclear visit to China.

Not to be particularly surprised, Anjin Investments was invited back, and had its license restored, in order to resume its disputable diamond mining activities in Zimbabwe by the new leader, Mnangagwa.

I am trying hard not to read too much into these power cuts - in spite of the claimed coming on board of Hwange Unit 7 - but, it is difficult with a government as ours.

It is akin to a cheating, untrustworthy philandering husband - who have been caught too many times with his pants, literally, down!

Even if he is legitimately late returning home from work, possibly due to traffic congestion, his wife has every justification in immediately suspecting that he up to his usual tricks again, and in all likelihood out there busy frolicking with another 'side chick'.

Maybe, there is really nothing overly suspicious - but, past experience has taught Zimbabweans to never be too sure, nor take things for granted, with their government.

Oftentimes, there will be something sneaky or some underhand dealings - which are mostly prejudicial and harmful to the ordinary citizenry - taking place under the radar.

Is that not why Zimbabweans are eagerly anticipating the Al Jazeera documentary to be aired tomorrow (23rd March) - exposing sickening corruption, money laundering and gold smuggling involving high ranking Zimbabwe officials - all captured on camera, over a two-year undercover investigation?

We know what type of scheming nefarious crooked people we have in power - and, it would not surprise me at all if this entire Hwange Unit 7 and 8 a huge big scam!

What is really going on there, and who is benefiting what?

In fact, the bigger question is - what do the the people of Zimbabwe stand to lose?

- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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