National 8.8.2016 08:55 am

Zim border still open despite threats

A protest banner from an earlier protest in July. Picture: ANA

A protest banner from an earlier protest in July. Picture: ANA

There is still a lot of anger against the banning of imports from SA, while power outages are also harming the country.

In the face of plans of a major strike to shut down the Beitbridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe, the police in the country said they would be out in “full force” to stop it, according to Zimbabwe’s Home Affairs Minister, Ignatius Chombo.

He was speaking to the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper.

Using the hashtag #BeitbridgeShutdown, protesters want to shut down the border post on Monday to show anger at the banning of many South African imports. The bans have affected the country very badly and also harmed Musina in South Africa. Prayers and protest meetings are planned for Musina on Monday.

The Citizens of the Zimbabwe Movement, based in South Africa, has also threatened to shut down the border.

According to EWN on Monday, the border has remained open for the moment.

President Robert Mugabe is clamping down on all forms of protest. Government is reportedly planning to jail anyone “abusing” social media. It may even try to extradite the leader of the anti-Mugabe #ThisFlag movement, pastor Evan Mawarire, who is in exile in South Africa.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe experienced a major power outage after most energy units went down on Sunday. Power went down at around 3pm before it was restored in some parts of the country three hours later, while the remaining areas were only put back online six hours later.

In an update, power utility ZESA Holdings said: “ZESA Holdings wishes to advise its valued customers countrywide of loss of power to most parts of the country this afternoon due to a system disturbance.

“The unplanned power outage was due to a system disturbance that led to a loss of one unit at Kariba Power Station, four units at Hwange Power Station, small thermals, power imports from Mozambique, and the Zambian interconnection, leading to the destabilisation of the national electricity grid.”

The power utility said restoration was under way. Zimbabwe – which is facing a biting energy crisis – at peak needs about 2200 megawatts (MW) of power, but the country’s plants and imports are contributing 1355MW. The country imports 300MW of power from South Africa’s power utility Eskom, between 100MW and 185MW from Mozambique, and 100MW from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The US533 million Kariba Power Station expansion programme, expected to be completed by 2018, will add 300MW on the national grid and is now 40% complete. There is also the Batoka Hydro Station, a power project in the pipeline and to be located 50km downstream of Victoria Falls, which requires US3 billion to construct and if completed, will generate 2400MW.

Several companies are seeking licences to set up solar projects in the country and complement the current thermal and hydro projects. – Additional reporting by African News Agency (ANA)

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