The Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) board has suspended the company’s managing director, William Mhando, and three other senior officials pending investigation into various allegations against them advanced by Energy and Minerals permanent secretary Eliakim Maswi.
Among accusations directed at the Tanesco top management include the introduction of a three-day power rationing regime early this week, which the ministry claimed was deliberately planned, and misuse of the company’s finances.
However, board chairman Robert Mboma skipped yesterday’s emergency meeting, delegating powers instead to his deputy in what was termed as his “satisfaction” with the move taken by the ministry of Energy and Minerals.
A one-page statement issued by deputy board chairman Victor Mwambalaswa said allegations levelled against the Tanesco top management were serious and needed to be investigated thoroughly.
“During our discussion it was observed that these accusations were serious and therefore an independent investigation was needed,” the statement went on, noting that it would be appropriate to “conduct an immediate inquiry by appointing an independent probe team.”
Other suspended officials are deputy managing director in charge of company services Robert Shemhilu, chief financial officer Luseleko Kassanga and senior procurement manager Harun Matambo.
“Besides the board’s decision, it has taken appropriate action to ensure the company’s daily operations remain unaffected,” the board statement said.
When contacted yesterday for comment, Mhando said, “I am clean; hopefully the truth will come out soon.”
According to Mhando, power rationing that occurred on July 10 wasn’t intentional as claimed by the ministry’s top civil servant.
“What transpired was that two days before the rationing, there was a sharp decline in the water level at Kidatu dam, a situation that endangered the security of the power generating infrastructure, forcing the company to temporarily shut down the power production plants,” the embattled managing director explained.
Closure of the Kidatu power plants caused a deficit of 95 megawatts, according to details gathered by The Guardian on Sunday.
On July 11 the Tanesco MD wrote a letter to the PS seeking his approval to extend the rationing for two more days, pending the availability of industrial diesel and natural gas for some power generating plants.
All these problems have been caused by a delay in securing a Sh408 billion loan as well as a Sh80 billion subsidy from the government.
The subsidy was supposed to have been paid by early this month, but no money has been paid to the giant parastatal as yet. This has exacerbated the situation in the perennially cash-strapped utility firm.
Up to July 11 Tanesco owed its independent power producers Sh319.6 billion, with some key electricity and fuel suppliers threatening to suspend services if their debts were not paid.