Kariba South power deal is unconstitutional

MDC-T shadow minister for finance, Tendai Biti, has told parliament that the $355m Kariba South power project deal between Zimbabwe and China last is unconstitutional, since the agreement was signed without MP’s approval.


Biti said that, though Zimbabwe was desperately in need of power, it would be against provisions of the constitution for parliament to rubber-stamp agreements.

Zimbabwe and the China Export and Import Bank signed the loan agreement for the expansion of the Kariba South hydropower station without the arrangement passing through parliament.

The project would boost the station’s power generation capacity by 35 per cent from 750 megawatts to more than 1,000.

“As much as the country needs more power, there are no good reasons for government to violate the constitution,” said Biti, stressing that he was supportive of the power boosting arrangement.

Biti, the former minister for finance in the GNU, revealed that the project was long overdue, since it was supposed to have been implemented 20 years ago.

Responding to Biti and other MPs’ concerns regarding the deal, the finance and economic development minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said as long as Zimbabwe found development loans with interest rates as low as those in the Chinese deal, he would not hesitate to append his signature.

“Remember the loan agreement attracts just two per cent interest and be advised that I will continue blindly signing such generous arrangements, since they are worth my signature,” he said.

Under the agreement, the Chinese bank will provide $319.5m to meet 90 per cent of the expected total costs. The state-owned Zimbabwe Power Company has provided the balance.

The loan is to be paid back in 20 years with a five-year grace period.

Chinamasa said the project would create employment during its three years of implementation. It is also expected to reduce heavy load shedding and help boost agriculture around the country, as farmers would get power for irrigation purposes.

Currently, Zimbabwe generates 1,200 megawatts of power against a daily demand of 2,200.

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