Harare — Some Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) employees are cashing in on desperate Glen Norah residents, charging them an average of US$30 per household to avoid power disconnection, a residents' rights organisation has said.
The Harare Residents' Trust (HRT) last week said some Zesa employees were demanding payment to stop disconnecting defaulting residents' power. "Residents in the area have resorted to bribing Zesa employees around US$30 to avoid disconnection of electricity. Several residents have done this in the community and continue to fall prey to the Zesa employees," said the Trust.
The residents, said HRT, also complained that most of their electricity bills were not a true reflection of consumption at household levels, as they were based on estimates. They also complained about faulty billing and excessive load-shedding in the suburb.
The residents also said Zesa officials were very uncooperative and hostile whenever they attempted to seek detailed explanations on their accounts. Zesa spokesperson, Fullard Gwasira, professed ignorance that some Zesa employees were getting paid by defaulting residents to avoid disconnections. He urged residents to pay the bills at banking halls and not to individuals.
"Whoever is paying that US$30 is being cheated and they are doing themselves a disservice because their bills remain the same and even increase the following month," said Gwasira.
"One is better off paying that US$30 to Zesa and having their bill lowered by the same amount and not giving it to someone for temporary relief, but still risk disconnection." He urged the public to report such people to Zesa.
ZESA to continue with disconnections: Gwasira
Gwasira however said the disconnections to defaulting residents in Glen View and other areas would continue. "It is not like we have a special operation against residents in that area," he said.
"This is just a routine operation," said Gwasira. "We read meters, send bills and expect payment, but some residents do not pay, prompting us to send reminders in the form of a second bill. We are open to those who want to negotiate payment plans but some ignore us, leaving us with no option but to disconnect, which is the last resort."
Gwasira said Zesa reads 80% of meters every month and starts with the other 20 the following month. He said rate payers should know that there is a direct relationship between payments and the quality of service delivered.
"The better payment we receive, the better the service we deliver because we use the money to improve our services," he said.