Portnex cut off over $28m ZESA debt

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Michael Magoronga

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has cut off power supply to Kwekwe based ferrochrome producer, Portnex Private Limited over a bill estimated to be hovering above $28million.

Portnex is producing ferrochrome using the Zimasco Western Plant on a 5 year lease agreement.

ZESA Holdings Public Relations Manager Mr Fullard Gwasira confirmed the development saying the move was not ‘normal’.

“Yes we withdrew power supply from Portnex and this is a normal credit control measure. That is the route the power utility company takes when those who owe us do not come forward for a payment plan or has a payment plan that they are not honouring,” said Mr Gwasira.

 He said the move was not a witch hunt but a normal routine.

“I should hasten to say this was not a witch hunt as it could have happened to anyone else. We are just taking the normal routine that is meant to keep the power utility up and running,” said Mr Gwasira.

Although he could not be drawn into revealing the figures which he said where confidential between the two parties, it is understood that the bill had accumulated to an estimated $28 million since 2015.

Portnex General Manager, Mr Deon Hefer confirmed that the plant was down but said the company was going through a ‘routine maintenance’.

“Yes we are down at the moment but we are just going through our routine maintenance and we should be back into business by next week Tuesday,” he said.

Pressed further, Mr Heffer however let slip that production had been crippled by the power cut but could also not be drawn into revealing the amount in question.

“About the ZESA debt, its confidential, what you have to know is that we will be back next Tuesday. We are however failing to produce despite us having a lot of stock against a massive demand of our product. But it’s not an issue we will be back very soon,” said Mr Heffer.

Portnex and Zimasco signed a lease deal in 2015 that saw Portnex inheriting the Western Plant while Zimasco operates the Eastern Plant which has two furnaces.

Only two of Portnex’s three plants were operational while the third one was expected to commence operations soon.

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