(By Edwin Mbulo in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe)
ZAMBIA and Zimbabwean ministers of energy have expressed fear of being fired following delays in implementation of the over US$5 billion Batoka George Hydro-Electric Scheme.
During the opening of the 36th Council of Ministers meeting of the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) at the Elephants Hills Hotel, Dr Jorum Gumbo, who is Zimbabwe’s energy and power development minister, said recent months had witnessed a lot of interest being expressed in the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme, an indication of how commercially attractive the project was.
“Our principals are now agitated by the delays in completing the preparatory studies and if we do not move with speed, they might take their own route to project implementation, and for us the ministers
present here, our jobs could be in the line of fire,” Dr Gumbo said.
He further warned government and ZRA officials that if the ministers were under threat of being fired for any lapses in the implementation of the Batoka George project, theirs were also in the firing line.
“I think those around the table here heard me loud and clear, I think they heard me and I think if our jobs are going to be on line, Icthink we must also turn around and put their jobs on line. So its scratch my back and I scratch yours,” Dr Gumbo said.
He urged the ZRA to urgently mobilise resources for the construction of the dam after having had a learning experience on their recent visit to Ethiopia’s two mega hydro-power projects under construction namely the Gibe III scheme and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Development Project (GERD).
Zambia’s minister of Energy Mathews Nkhuwa said President Egar Lungu was also worried that the Batoka Gorge hydro-scheme was taking
“Therefore, we need to find ways and means of making sure that we expedite the processes and I am sure that the people that are sitting around this room are capable of making sure that the processes are quickly dealt with,” he said.
“So we are looking forward to getting on with the job. Like the chairman [Dr Gumbo] has said our jobs are on the chopping board and that if we don’t deliver, we will be gone. We will be delivered out
of here, so we don’t want to be delivered, we are here to make sure that we deliver,” Nkhuwa said.
The ZRA Council of Ministers was expected to review the Kariba Dam rehabilitation project and also approve the authority’s 2019 budget.