ZESCO Limited Board Chairperson Vickson Ncube says the utility company has halted standard connection approvals as it awaits the cost-of-service study report to be out because the company doesn’t have the money to subsidise.

Energy Minister Peter Kapala recently said there would be no increment in both electricity tariffs and connection fees before the cost of service study was finalised and implemented.

He said this after ZESCO applied to the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) for an increase, by over 500 per cent, in connection fees.

And in an interview, Thursday, Ncube said ZESCO was not approving anything for the time being.

“Remember, we are in business, we are powering the nation, we want lights for everyone. So as we sit right now on standard connection, we have put a halt to approvals given the obvious reasons that we gave in our application, that we do not have the money to subsidise. At least if we got an approval, it may not be exactly what we are applying for, but at least it will move us a long way to cushion our ability to help in the connection,” he said.

“Remember life does not come to a stand still until the cost-of-service study is out. We can move the process so that by the time it is finalized, at least we have moved the process in a certain way and the decision will then be aligned. We are obviously proposing other approaches which of course I cannot disclose until I have discussed with the Minister and the ERB. For the time being, we are not approving anything as ZESCO.”

Asked if Kapala’a pronouncement would affect the utility’s operations, Ncube said Zesco was not averse to the Minister of Energy’s approach.

“No, no, no, it is part of the due process. We are not averse to that approach,” he said.

“In his statement, he says what ZESCO is doing is in line with what they were advised by himself and the ERB. The process can continue but until that time when the cost-of-service is done. So the decision will not be made until [that is done] but the process can go ahead. People can submit and then ERB will proceed but they will not make a decision on that application until [then].”

Meanwhile, Ncube said measures were being taken to ensure that the country did not experience load shedding following a poor rainfall pattern.

“On the rainfall, we are already making our projections but the reason why you appoint people in positions is not so they [can] explain where the problem is. More importantly, we are now looking at options to make sure that the impact on the country due to the quantity of the rains is not devastating. We are not planning for load shedding or load management, we are planning to find solutions to ensure that that does not happen. So we have to rationalize our generation systems to make sure that Chamuka does not get load shaded. The era of good explanations is gone, we have to live in an era of solutions,” said Ncube.