Zesagate Affair: Mugabe settling power bill

via Zesagate Affair: Mugabe settling power bill – DailyNews Live 1 June 2015 by Mugove Tafirenyika

HARARE – President Robert Mugabe has been pressured to settle his $345 000 power debt to State-owned power firm Zesa Holdings three years after the Daily News’ Zesagate exposé, an official at the power utility confirmed.

Zesagate, one of the biggest scandal to rock the country in more than a decade, was unearthed by the Daily News in 2012 and revealed that at a time the power utility was on a nationwide power disconnections campaign against defaulting consumers in domestic, commercial and industrial categories, Zesa had conveniently ignored the bigwigs, who were stratified under the so-called “sensitive customers.”

The named defaulters included legislators from across the political divide in the ruling coalition, judges, provincial governors, ministers and their deputies and permanent secretaries.

Among the highest debtors was President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace, who owed over $345 000 to Zesa as at December 31, 2011.

Josh Chifamba, the Zesa chief executive, yesterday told the Daily News that Mugabe was now religiously paying his power bills in the wake of the Zesagate scandal.

“We do not normally discuss individual bills with the press but because you have mentioned the president I can tell you that his account is exemplary,” Chifamba said.

He said most individuals including Cabinet ministers who owed Zesa had come up with payment plans and that they had since made significant strides in clearing their bills.

“What you wrote a few years ago is not the case anymore. If everyone in the country was paying their bills as religiously as the president does, then we would not be having the electricity problems that we are currently experiencing as a country,” added Chifamba.

Two weeks ago, top officials at the Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company (ZETDC) told Parliament that the company was losing tens of millions of dollars in free electricity to its employers and ministry of Mines officials.

Julian Chinembiri, ZETDC managing director, told members of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy that ZETDC’s over 5 000 employees, including pensioners, were entitled to $160 worth of electricity per month.

Chinembiri also said that the Energy ministry workers were entitled to free power units worth $100 each per month. This cost the power utility losses of up to $9 million worth of electricity per year through the freebies.

This comes as the struggling power firm is switching off hundreds of thousands of hard-pressed Zimbabweans owing paltry amounts.

As for the president, Zesagate revealed that Mugabe’s four plots at Foyle Farm plus a cottage as well as Gushungo Dairy Estates had put him into a $143 667,33 debt with Zesa as at the end of 2011.

The president’s Gwebi Woodlot 1st Farm owed $24 901,05 while his Sigaro Farm 1st PO, 2nd PO, 3rd PO and 4th PO owed a total of $78 218,71.

The First Lady, however, fared less with her Iron Mask Cottage, Iron Mask 2nd POIN, Iron Mask 3rd POIN, Mazowe Wholesalers, Annant Cottage, Iron Mask Farm 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th owing a total of $98 306,60 as at December  31, 2011.

On the other hand Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was listed under the so-called “sensitive customers profile”, owed Zesa $240 824, 03.

The Daily News’ Zesa scandal, helped to refocus the national agenda on the topic of double standards used by the power firm to stratify clients, and unveiling a nationwide culture of entitlement and blatant refusal by the senior officials to pay for electricity supplies.