Zimbabwe miners told to pay utility bills in foreign currency

Mining companies in Zimbabwe will have to use foreign currency to pay for power but can make their own arrangements for imports from foreign suppliers, the country’s energy minister said.

The order comes just weeks after the government outlawed foreign currency as legal tender and officially reintroduced the Zimbabwean dollar a decade after it was wiped out by hyperinflation.

Units like the dollar and South Africa’s rand had been considered valid currency since 2009.

“The purpose of the structure is to ensure mining entities have sufficient power,” Fortune Chasi told reporters Tuesday in the capital, Harare. “We can’t afford stoppages.”

Large hotels in the resort town of Victoria Falls were also ordered to pay the state-owned power utility, Zesa Holdings, in foreign currency as a “stop-gap measure so that tourists aren’t inconvenienced” by power cuts, Chasi said.

Zesa cuts power to most consumers for 18 hours a day, seven days a week, after drought collapsed its main hydro-power plant.