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Lack of Foreign Currency Results in Major Power Outages - 2003-03-28

Harare residents do without many basic such as mealie meal, cooking oil, milk, margarine, meat and sugar. Now, they have to face the shortage of power. A reduction in electricity came into effect on Wednesday without prior warning from power utility officials at the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA).

Some Zimbabweans blame the government for their current predicament. Harare resident John Mawema said the government of president Robert Mugabe has failed and he called upon the president to resign.

Other are more concerned about safety issues associated with losing power. Maxwell Dzinesa, said the power cuts would likely lead to an increase in crime in the high-density suburbs of the capital. He also feared it would encourage the beatings of residents and opposition supporters by authorities and ruling party supporters.

But even far greater concern is the effect a power outage will have on food. In a country where food shortages continue to worsen every little bit counts. Father of five Milton Moyo said the food that most residents had stored in their fridges would likely be affected by their lack of electrical power.

In an interview Friday, Elias Mudzuri, Harare executive mayor, said Harare is rationing water because the government has failed to pay suppliers of chemicals needed to purify the water. The government says it lacks the needed foreign currency to do so.