via Zesa under fire over power crisis – The Zimbabwean 30.9.2015
Residents from local high density suburbs have expressed outrage over unprecedented load-shedding by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, which has seen them going through black-outs of about 18 hours on a daily basis.
The new schedule has been operational for about nine weeks now, with densely populated suburbs like Mkoba, Mtapa, Ascot, Senga and Mambo being the most affected. Medium density suburbs like Lundi Park, South Downs, Kopje, Gweru East and Southview are also grappling with the intensified schedule.
Zesa says the massive load-shedding is due to record low levels of water at Kariba Dam. A technical fault at Hwange Power Station has made the situation worse, sparking widespread public anger. Reward Mhuri, the Gweru United Residents Association chairperson urged Zesa to immediately act on the problem or risk crippling demonstrations.
“What is clear is that Zesa has not been using the money we pay for pre-paid electricity in a transparent manner. Problems at Hwange and Kariba have always been recurring. Zesa has not done anything meaningful to refurbish the plants and put a permanent stop to the outages. This is what angers us the most because we feel greatly let down. If nothing is done to rectify this crisis, we will take to the streets,” he said. Albert Chadoka, a resident from Mkoba, said the continued black-outs mean that unemployed citizens who have been trying to make ends meet through small projects have been rendered desperate by the power outages.
“Many people have been trying to make ends meet through simple projects like typing, printing, photocopying and scanning because these are hard times. Others in my suburb survive on welding, upholstery, small grinding mills, hair salons, just to mention a few.
Zesa is killing their hope in life and perhaps it’s time we see shake-up at their management,” he said. “It is simply dehumanising that we live in an urban area but we find ourselves plunged into such long dark hours. It disconnects us from the world in all aspects because we cannot communicate. Zesa is sliding us back to the dark ages,” said Sesulelo Khumalo, 33, from Mkoba.
A graduate from the Kingdom Life pastoral college, Pastor Priviledge Mutanga, 28, said the intensified load-shedding was depriving Christians of their religious freedom. “We used to hold all-night prayers but now we cannot do that. We cannot afford back-up power from things like generators due to financial constraints. So our freedom to worship has been affected,” she said.
Nomathemba Khumalo, 21, a fourth year media student from Midlands State University, said the power crisis, which has seen Senga suburb plunged into darkness for about 17 hours daily, had affected many students’ studies. The majority of MSU students stay in Senga due to inadequate residential halls at the campus.
“The varsity has few libraries that cannot accommodate us all and so we need to study at home. But we are finding this difficult because we cannot make any online research due to power outages. We are faced with a great challenge here,” she said.
William Mutanga, a butcher at Mkoba 6 shopping centre, pointed out that his trade had been jeopardised. Passmore Sadza Gutu, from Senga, said Zesa risked lawsuits from residents whose electrical gadgets had been damaged by the black-outs, which do not have regular schedules.
“Zesa should publicise their load-shedding so that we can avoid damages to our gadgets. We are all angry and Zesa may soon be sued,” he said.
Over the years reports of corruption at Zesa. coupled with government interference that sees funds being diverted to cover the state’s payment of civil servants, have been cited as reasons why the power utility continues to lag behind. In the run up to the disputed 2013 elections, then Energy Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire was accused of siphoning funds from the parastatal to bankroll Zanu (PF)’s campaign.