HomeBusiness DigestBarter trade helps parastatals cope

Barter trade helps parastatals cope

Ngoni Chanakira

THE cash-strapped trio comprising the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and Wankie Colliery Company Ltd (Wankie) are now engaging in barter

deals among themselves to avoid paying cash for goods and services.

Insiders this week said the companies had decided to engage in the “unofficial” barter to bypass the serious cash crunch bedevilling them.

The trio is understood to be crediting each other for services rendered and goods sold instead of asking for cash upfront.

Zesa, Wankie and NRZ owe each other billions and their services are intertwined.

Zesa supplies electricity, Wankie produces coal that is needed for electricity generation, while the NRZ transports the coal.

However, because of the serious cash crisis the trio have failed to pay for services offered sometimes resulting in mudslinging among them.

“Zesa switched us off on the Harare/Mutare railway line,” said an NRZ source. “Instead of fighting with them we just decided to stop delivering their coal, seriously disrupting operations. It was a case of tit-for-tat.”

Zesa is reliably understood to have lost at least $300 million when the NRZ stopped delivering their coal.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono in his monetary policy statement told parastatals to stand on their own feet and not depend on government handouts.

He said penalties would soon be introduced to parastatals that continued to beg from government via the central bank.

“Why should we be penalised while Zesa are treated as good boys,” the NRZ source said. “We decided that enough is enough.”

Wankie, which made a $9 billion loss last year, has confirmed that coal sales at 854 605 tonnes were 29% below the previous year resulting in numerous shortages countrywide and on the export market. Customers faced transportation problems because the NRZ could not offer wagons.

“Transportation of coal should be relatively eased following the different arrangements which some major customers entered into with the National Railways of Zimbabwe to refurbish wagons and hire locomotives from South Africa,” Wankie chairman Munacho Mutezo said.

“Road freight would continue to be the alternative mode of transport.”

Wankie has now asked the RBZ for approval to bill in foreign currency customers who export their products.

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