19 May 2012

Zimbabwe: Bleak Weekend - No Beer, No Water, No Power

HARARE residents could endure a bleak weekend without water, electricity and beer.

There are reports that Delta Beverages' beer plant broke down, while most eastern suburbs were without water yesterday.

On the other hand, Zesa Holdings this week introduced massive loadshedding, resulting in some suburbs going for over 17 hours without power.

Industry has also been affected. The shortage of beer has seen retailers getting inadequate stocks. The retailers said they had been told that one of the plants at Delta Beverages in Southerton, Harare, was down. "We are failing to get beer and it will be disastrous for our business during the weekend.

"We understand they have something in stock, but there is no transparency in how that beer will be sold," said a retailer who preferred anonymity.

The retailer said the shortages started on Thursday. Popular lagers like Castle and Pilsener were not available. "What we are getting erratically are quarts and cans. Pints, which many drinkers prefer, are not available. "What is worrying us more is that people prefer Lion and Castle lagers and these are in short supply," he said.

Another retailer, Mr Ben Mashoko, said the shortage had resulted in vendors buying all the pints from retailers for resale on the black market.

"The spirit of profiteering is still in most of us and most are taking advantage of the situation selling the pints at more than US$1," he said. On average, a pint costs US$1 while a quart sells for US$1,50. Delta Beverages head of corporate affairs Mr George Mutendadzamera declined to comment on the issue last night, saying he was out of the country. Another official, Ms Tsungi Matiure, said they will issue an official statement on Monday.

Harare City Council spokesperson Mr Leslie Gwindi attributed water problems in the eastern suburbs to inspections on plans and pipes that were being done by engineers.

"The problem has been sorted out and things are starting to normalise as I speak." Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira said power shortages were a result of high demand usually associated with the winter season. "The power is not enough and demand is picking up since its winter. The seasonal winter gadgets are being used and it means loadshedding is much more bearable.

We urge people to save electricity," he said. Mr Gwasira said Zesa was working flat out to alleviate the problem. "Maintenance at one of the units at Kariba is underway and very soon the unit will be back.

"I cannot give you the number of units operational at Kariba because the situation is volatile and can change at any time." Some residents said it was unfair for the power utility to continue with disconnections when there was no power. "We spend the whole day and half the night without power and what we receive are these high bills. "To make matters worse, they are not stopping their disconnections and no one wants to pay for something they do not use," said Mrs Mary Mureriwa of Mufakose.

Another resident fumed: "Zesa's failure to supply electricity is illogical as money is being collected. "This is going to demoralise us and it seems we are there only to be milked by the power utility."

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