South Africa and Zambia may cut off electricity supplies to Zimbabwe because Harare has fallen behind in its payments, a member of Zimbabwe's parliamentary committee on energy said on Thursday, and a news report said power had already been cut.
News service ZimOnline reported that the two countries have already cut off supplies to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority. The South African utility Eskom later on Thursday issued a statement saying it had not cut power to Zimbabwe.
Eskom itself has been straining to meet South African demand for electricity as about 24% of its generating capacity was off line at one point this week due to maintenance and a temporary shutdown by a nuclear power plant near Cape Town.
Thembinkosi Sibindi, legislator for Hwange East for the opposition formation of Arthur Mutambara, said ZESA in late October told his committee that South Africa and Zambia had threatened to cut off the flow of power over arrears.
ZESA executives told the committee that the troubled utility had asked the government for an allocation of foreign exchange, but to no avail.
Sibindi told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that power cuts are possible as the 2008 budget makes no provision for the electric power authority to settle its hard-currency debts.