Zimbabwe Review

Reflections on Zimbabwe

The uncertainity of one’s relations with the neighbours

Posted by CM on June 20, 2007

Congo denies cutting power supply to Zimbabwe

Democratic Republic of Congo denied a report by Zimbabwe State media that it had cut off power supplies to the energy-starved southern African state.

“There was a problem with the line…a cable fell, ” said Energy Minister Salomon Banamuhere. “We fixed it and there is now electricity going through.”

Official media in Zimbabwe reported earlier that Congo had cut electricity supply over non-payment of a $5 million debt.

The country has grappled with chronic power shortages over the last two years but has suffered severe blackouts in the last few days after some of state-owned power utility ZESA’s generators broke down and it failed to buy coal for the others.

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What I found fascinating about this story is the suggestion that Zimbabwean State media jumped to the conclusion that the country had been cut off by the DRC over arrears. The possibility of a fault was the furthest thing from their minds!

The implication of the Zimbabwean assertion and the DRC denial of it is that the Zimbabwean authorities had been expecting such a power cut-off at any time, even if perhaps the DRC authorities were not planning it, as suggested by their bothering to fix the problem and resume the flow of electricity despite the outstanding debt.

If so, what a way to manage one’s problems : to live daily with the possibility and the fear of something as drastic as being cut off from electricity by a neighbouring country, a friendly one at that. So even the Zimbabwean official media didn’t believe that the country’s costly military adventure to prop up the current DRC president’s now deceased father meant anything to the state of economic and political relations between the two countries.

Yet the mantra all along is that it is only the western countries we believe ourselves to have a problem with! No, it looks like the paranoia spreads to even the intentions of the neighbours, which speaks volumes about one’s sense of confidence about his sense of security in the neighbourhod!

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