24 June 2012

Zimbabwe: Zesa Must Consider Cancelling Debts

The Harare Residents' Trust (HRT) commends the call by Senator for Rushinga Damian Mumvuri on Zesa to cancel debts accrued by consumers from February 2009 to December 2010.

The debts, which remain inflated estimates, are not in line with present poor service delivery by the power utility and the billing is not in line with monthly remuneration of the majority of Zimbabweans.

This has triggered anger and public unrest among the citizens of Harare who toil daily to settle bills while power disconnections loom large. In the interim, residents continue to fall victim to blackmail by Zesa employees who threaten to cut off electricity if they do not bribe them. This leaves residents without adequate funds to go and settle their arrears with the parastatal as Zesa wants residents to pay at least 50% of the current estimated debt.

On June 20 2012, the Parliamentary Thematic Committee on Peace and Security tabled a discussion with Zesa officials, where it was clear that the power utility has lost touch with reality. The officials indicated they had cancelled debt as of February 2009 and indicated they are owed US$600 million fingering residents as the chief debtors.

Zesa Holdings subsidiary ZETDC acting manager Howard Choga declared that residents are being billed on average US$25-US$30 in high-density suburbs while in low-density areas their billing averages US$50 and US$70, a declaration directly contradicting the situation on the ground, coming from an institution that has been basing its bills on estimates.

From the daily cases being received at the HRT from residents, in Highfield citizens with four-roomed houses receive bills that are disoriented and divorced from actual consumption, one household receives a monthly bill of US$56 while the house next door averages US$2 855,94 indicating huge variances and industrial/commercial billing on domestic units.

Meanwhile, Zesa has not stuck to its scheduled load-shedding timetable. Reports from Kuwadzana Phase 3, Glen Norah and Tafara show that they are going without electricity from 04:00 hours to 22:00 hours, experiencing 18 hours with no power.

The HRT therefore calls for the scrapping off of all bills from February 2009 up to December 2010 as the credibility and intentions of Zesa are nothing short of daylight robbery.

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