Ishemunyoro Chingwere Business Writer
The newly constituted Zesa Holdings (Pvt) Ltd board will have its work cut out as it faces a daunting task to light up its generation capacities amid a crippling skills flight.
Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi last week announced the return of Dr Sydney Gata to the power utility as executive chairman.
He will be deputised by Tsitsi Makovah in a board that also includes economist Professor Ashok Chakravati, investment banker Jonathan Wood, engineer Wadzanai Chigwa, business executive Stella Nkomo, Rosemary Siyachitema, accountant Caroline Mathonsi and seasoned lawyer James Muzangaza.
Addressing a media briefing after their inaugural meeting with Minister Chasi on Wednesday, Dr Gata said his first three days back in office had him seeing a dedicated and enthusiastic workforce at the power utility but its efforts could be curtailed by a skills flight.
Dr Gata said records at the power utility show that close to 600 former Zesa technical staff had left for greener pastures in the United Kingdom, Australia and the neighbouring South Africa.
“The task ahead of us is a very tough one,” said Gata.
“I have been in my office now for three days since my appointment. I do find that while (workers’) spirit (to do the job) is very high, the capacities have depleted very much. If we just factor the fact that for instance the national grid of the United Kingdom they are 72 ex-Zesa employees.
“One utility in Australia has got 65, Eskom about three months ago, the count was 430 ex-Zesa technical staff . . . so the organisation has been severely depleted of the capacities it used to command. That will be a major challenge,” he said.
In response to the deficit, Zesa has turned to South Africa and Mozambique for imports to cover the gap but this again has not been sufficient as the neighbours are also grappling with depressed generation.
Lack of foreign currency to pay for the imports has also hampered Zesa.
“(Minister) you said you wanted to see a hands on board, this is a critical condition for success, the board has to be present.
“Intellectually present in the deliberations of this industry otherwise we won’t succeed,” said Dr Gata.
The Zesa board gets into office to find a damning forensic audit report which details several cases of corruption on the desk.