By Farai Mutsaka and Gift Phiri
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace are some of the state-owned power firm Zesa Holdings’ biggest debtors. After a month of investigations by the Daily News, we can today reveal that the Mugabes as at December 31, 2011 owed Zesa over $345 000 in unpaid electricity bills at their multiple farms.
Mugabe’s bitter coalition partner Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told Parliament this week that he had settled his $5 000 Zesa bill only recently. The other coalition government principal Arthur Mutambara is in the green after making an advance payment of $400 to Zesa.
As the struggling power firm switches off hundreds of thousands of hard-pressed Zimbabweans owing paltry amounts, an investigation by this newspaper has unearthed shocking electricity bills for Mugabe and his family, and they are not in this alone.
The stunning revelations come as Mozambique power utility Hydro Cahora Bassa has just switched Zimbabwe off its grid over an unpaid power import bill of about $80 million.
Among those that owe Zesa hefty amounts are Mugabe’s closest aides going back to the 1970s liberation war days such as Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, minister of State in the President’s Office Didymus Mutasa and State Security minister Sydney Sekeramayi.
Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Higher Education minister Stan Mudenge and Mugabe’s deputy John Nkomo make the list.
Others that joined Mugabe after the liberation war years but have become part of his close knit, such as presidential spokesperson George Charamba are also up there on the Zesa defaulters’ list.
Charamba’s phone was unavailable when the Daily News called last night. Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira’s mobile phone was also unavailable.
Service chiefs such as Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga and Airforce commander Air Marshall Perrance Shiri are part of the crew that has left Zesa in financial doldrums.
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) director-general Happyton Bonyongwe also owes the power utility hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But it is Mugabe’s bill that is stunning, particularly when Zesa has over the years mounted a spirited campaign to force ordinary Zimbabweans to pay by disconnecting power in poor suburbs where unemployment is rife.
Mugabe and Grace, through various properties cumulatively owed Zesa more than $345 000 as at 31 December last year. This was just about the time a large number of Zimbabweans spent Christmas in the dark as Zesa claimed defaulters were crippling efforts to generate power and pay for enough imports.
Mugabe’s four plots at Foyle Farm plus a cottage as well as Gushungo Dairy Estates put the octogenarian into a $143 667,33 debt with Zesa as at year-end. The President’s Gwebi Woodlot 1st Farm owed $24 901,05. Mugabe’s Sigaro Farm 1st PO, 2nd PO, 3rd PO and 4th PO owed a total of $78 218,71. The First Lady fared less.
Her Iron Mask Cottage, Iron Mask 2nd POIN, Iron Mask 3rd POIN, Mazowe Wholesalers, Annant Cottage, Iron Mask Farm 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th owed a total of $98 306,60 as at December 31, last year. Mnangagwa owed Zesa $240 824,03. He is listed under sensitive customers profile.
Goche owed Zesa $158 245,52 for properties spanning several plots at Ceres Farm and businesses that include grinding mills, a farm store and a service station. Mutasa owed $179 590,31.
Happyton Bonyongwe, the Central Intelligence Organisation director general owes Zesa $350 989,48 but has forked out $77 800 in payments as he makes steady efforts to retire the debt.
Air Marshall Perrance Shiri owes $26 947,70 for his Hopdale Farm. Police chief Augustine Chihuri’s homestead and his Inyika Farm owe Zesa $106 778,25. The politicians’ penchant not to pay is evident in the figures, according to investigations.
Outstanding electricity bills for “sensitive customers” increased by 9 percent between December 2011 and February 2012.
* Look out for more shocking details in tomorrow’s edition of the Daily News.
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