ZESA bows down to political pressure on debt relief

via ZESA bows down to political pressure on debt relief | SW Radio Africa by Nomalanga Moyo 11 September 2013

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority has finally bowed down to political pressure and cancelled utility debts amounting to $170 million. The power utility company is owed in excess of $600 million by ratepayers.

But according to a statement issued Tuesday, ZESA will be writing off $80 million from the total debt owed by the farming community.

For domestic users $90 million will be taken off their combined bill, which translates to $160 per household, according to the figures given by ZESA.

ZESA said: “The debt relief to customers was devised after extensive consultations with farmers’ representatives and other stakeholders as a way of contributing to the general economic recovery and success of the agrarian reform in anticipation of the new planting season.”

The energy supplier said the adjustments will be reflected on customers’ October bills, with prepaid meter customers getting electricity units equivalent to $160.

However, ratepayers are not convinced this move is for their benefit.

Combined Harare Residents association chairperson Simbarashe Moyo said it was clear that this was a political move meant to benefit politicians.

“We are surprised by what the government is doing. First it was water bills, now electricity. This is happening at a time when residents have been contributing significantly to the reduction of their debts to ZESA through a plan that is already in place.

“For us the benefit to residents is nothing compared to what the politicians, farmers and businesses stand to gain. These are the people who since 2000 have been consuming electricity without paying and owe ZESA huge amounts,” Moyo said.

Moyo further criticised politicians for sending out a wrong message through the debt relief schemes: “What this essentially tells ratepayers is that if you don’t pay and five years lapse you can have your bill written off by politicians.”

Moyo said residents were also concerned that as a result of the debt cancellation measure, ZESA may fail to service its own debt to energy suppliers such as Eskom of South Africa.

“We will be hoping that the government has also put in place plans to take care of what ZESA owes its own suppliers as well as banks – otherwise this is a recipe for disaster which will see 24-hour blackouts,” he added.

On Wednesday morning, Harare’s central business district was without electricity.

Last month outgoing Energy Minister Elton Mangoma warned that ZESA would be thrown into financial difficulties if the forced debt relief, driven by ZANU PF deputy leader Joice Mujuru, went ahead.

Mangoma said ZESA was running a breakeven tariff regime, and unless ZESA gets paid for services rendered, it will collapse.

Even before ZESA announced the debt relief, reports suggest that it was already experiencing cash-flow problems as ratepayers withheld payments in anticipation of the government directive.

SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa said despite ZANU PF spinning the debt relief as a philanthropic move aimed at the majority of struggling Zimbabweans, it was party loyalists and senior officials who were the winners.

“They are the real beneficiaries as they own most of these farms and businesses,” Muchemwa said.

 

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 5
  • comment-avatar

    …parasitic government z @ t again…

  • comment-avatar
    Terry Hwesa 7 years ago

    The statement from ZESA does not detail the formula for the write-off for the so-called farmers. For residents it is clear that the extent of the write-off is $160. This whole arrangement stinks and has been done for the benefit for the big wigs. They got farms for free. Now their rates and electricity bills are being written off. The list published last year showed the big chefs owe tens of thousands. When is this lootocracy going to end.

  • comment-avatar
    munzwa 7 years ago

    as someone wrote in a related article regarding the stolen election and i quote”if you cant beat them join them”

  • comment-avatar
    todii zvazvo 7 years ago

    Imari yatobiwa iyi?
    simply cancell the hole debt not in bit and pieces just to cause confusion and create a smart environment to steal!

  • comment-avatar
    Changamire Leo 7 years ago

    The question here is not about the cancellation of bills but politics at play.How much does ZESA owe Hydro Cabbora Bassa,SNELL of DRC and ESKOM of South Africa in delivered power.As we are speaking right now ZESA has not been able to pay its employees its concluded 2012 Collective Bargaining Agreement.ZESA has used coal from Hwange Colliery Company and other mines not for free but at a cost.They also pay for any business related costs that any going concern pays including corporate tax,NSSA,Pensions,medical aid for its employees,petrol and diesel,transport costs,rentals,telephone bills,water bills,Zambezi River Authority bills,stationery,everything you name it.Who is then going to pay for all those bills.Thank you.May God bless Zimbabwe.