Residents' associations in Harare have threatened to sue the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) should it fail to refund consumers it has been overcharging since last year.
The Administrative Court recently nullified Zesa tariffs increases effected in September 2011, technically forcing the power utility to revert to 2009 tariffs.
This was after a successful legal challenge initiated by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI). Residents, who have always complained about exorbitant charges against a poor service - received the ruling with joy.
Harare Residents Trust (HRT) executive director, Precious Shumba last week vowed to ensure that consumers got their money back. "To the residents, the nullification of the rates which were introduced in September 2011 means that Zesa has to recalculate the bills that were overcharged and credit the accounts of residents that were affected," he said.
"If for any reason, Zesa fails to implement the Administrative Court's decision, then the HRT will have no option but to take the matter to the courts seeking legal redress. Alternatively, being the most popular route for residents, widespread demonstrations targeting Zesa will be undertaken with the objective of forcing Zesa Holdings to comply with the law."
Shumba said last month alone, the HRT intervened in nearly 80 cases relating to chaotic Zesa billing. HRT has handled 987 cases since the beginning of the year, up from 400 cases last year. Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) chairman Simbarashe Moyo said the administrative court ruling was a clear testimony of how difficult life was for residents.
"Zesa's inconsistencies have prejudiced residents for a long time," Moyo said. "First there was the estimated billing, then the US$30 and US$40 set by government for high and low density suburbs respectively.
He added: "Then came the era of unjustifiably high tariffs which turn out to be illegal more than a year down the line."
Moyo said Zesa must cancel all outstanding bills and start on a new note based on the prepaid meters they promised to install.
Zesa last week said it had so far installed 19 000 prepaid meters countrywide. It assured ratepayers that power woes, would soon be over as it targets to complete the installation of the meters within 10 months.