The Zimbabwean government has finally agreed to clear its long- outstanding debt of about $260 million owed to Zambia for the shared Kariba Dam infrastructure the country inherited at independence.
However, Zimbabwe’s energy minister Elton Mangoma says the country currently has no capacity to settle the 30-year-old debt.
“We discussed and agreed that the interest would no longer be paid but only $70,8 million plus the initial evaluation of $70,8 million,” he said.
“It was agreed interest should be written off but the capital amount should be paid within 3 years, but Zimbabwe does not have the capacity to pay,” Mangoma said.
The Zambian energy minister, Chris Yaluma was quoted in the Zambian media confirming that a commitment had been made by the Zimbabwe energy minister to settle the long overdue debt.
“When the assets were sold, the component of the money due to Zambia was not given. There has been some interest accrued and the Zimbabwean government is trying to look for a fair solution where the Zambian government drops off the interest and they simply pay the principle or consider paying the accrued interest,” the Zambian minister said.
The dispute between Zambia and Zimbabwe revolved around an unpaid debt for infrastructure that Zimbabwe inherited at independence from the Central African Power Corporation during the federation era.
Failure by Zimbabwe to settle its neighbour’s debt had been identified among some of the reasons that have stalled the construction of the 1 600 megawatt Batoka hydro-power station.
The power project situated 50 kilometres downstream of Victoria Falls, first mooted in 1993, was meant to be a joint venture between Zimbabwe and Zambia but lack of funding and reluctance by the Zambian government to start the project delayed its implementation.
The Daily News