Owed $260 million, Zesa plots defaulter disconnections

By Nqobile Tshili

ZESA is owed nearly $260 million by clients in Matabeleland region with the power utility company threatening a nationwide disconnection programme starting next month to force defaulters to pay their bills.The debtors include companies and individuals.

File picture of residents demonstrating against power utility ZESA
File picture of residents demonstrating against power utility ZESA

Those to be affected by disconnections include industry and domestic consumers with a fixed charge or metered electricity.

Prepaid meter consumers are exempted because 50 percent of the money they use to recharge goes towards servicing their debt.

This emerged yesterday during a Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) meeting with Zesa officials in the city.

In an interactive session, residents presented their challenges to Zesa officials while the authorities gave candid responses.

Residents’ debts, vandalism of Zesa infrastructure, delays in attending to electric faults and customer service complaints dominated the stakeholder discussions.Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company western region commercial manager Mr Newton Mutizakurima said residents among other clients should pay their bills for the utility company to continue providing a service.

“They owe about $260 million and the debt is for the whole western region. When I say western region I’m referring to Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South. Hence we are pleading that people should pay their bills,” he said.

Mr Mutizakurima said Zesa was making demands for payments in cognisance of the country’s economic situation.

“Electricity should be paid for, if you consume you should pay. We accept negotiations. We don’t want a situation where consumers use electricity and don’t pay anything. Yes we know that people have got issues, but even when you have issues you still need to eat,” he said.

Mr Mutizakurima said next month Zesa would start to disconnect power from defaulting residents.

“We’ve been flighting adverts from last week urging customers to update their payment plans. Because we know that customers owe us. So we gave them up to March 31. If they don’t come up with payment plans by March 31, we will either disconnect or push them to do payment plans,” he said.

Mr Mutizakurima also praised BPRA for initiating the stakeholder engagement programme.

“We were talking about the daily queries that they are concerned about. I’m sure the interaction is important for us to share this information so that they can be enlightened and so that they know where to go when they have issues,” he said.  The Chronicle