ZESA has hit the headlines once again, albeit for the wrong reasons. The difference however is that this time, President Robert Mugabe and his cronies are crying foul following an exposé of their shocking electricity bills released by the cash strapped Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA).
ZESA revealed that the financial crisis faced by the power utility company is also as a result of defaulting consumers who include high ranking politicians and government institutions. Defaulting politicians should give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and stop accusing the Minister of Energy, Elton Mangoma of trying to use the bills to gain political mileage.
A ZANU PF official who writes under the pseudonym Nathaniel Manheru accused the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in The Saturday Herald of inventing a scandal to match what he termed similar scandals which MDC officials are involved in.
The fact is, Mr. Manheru, ZANU PF officials owe ZESA large sums of money which they should simply pay and shut up instead of expecting sympathy from the vast majority of Zimbabweans who are constantly disconnected for outstanding bills of as little as USD10. ZESA is owed more than US$450 million by its customers with most of this balance emanating from top government officials.
ZANU PF’s insincerity and milking of parastatals coupled with blatant corruption and mismanagement has crippled state institutions including ZESA impacting negatively on Zimbabweans at large. While politicians are refusing to pay their outstanding bills, citizens are deprived of electricity for between 8 to 15 hours a day due to load-shedding disrupting business and other important activities.
Despite the evident scarcity of energy, people continue to pay exorbitant monthly electricity bills. At the same time, the ZESA management has reportedly awarded itself hefty increments of 75% backdated from 2009. Such corruption should be castigated strongly by the inclusive government and culprits arrested as this is unfair to citizens who bear the brunt of such injustices.
The authority has treated top Government officials as sacred cows yet they are the biggest defaulters. Presdinent Mugabe owes USD345, 000 while Manicaland Governor, Christopher Mushohwe owes USD367, 606.07 and Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo owes the national power utility almost $130,000, for power supplied to his Allan Grange farm in Mashonaland West province. These politicians continue accessing electricity despite their debts.
ZESA currently owes US$ 5 million to Hydro Cahora Basa of Mozambique which supplies Zimbabwe with about 500 Megawatts of electricity to cover shortfalls resulting in increased load shedding. Businesses, hospitals and schools are suffering due to the insincerity exhibited by the ZANU PF bigwigs.
The load shedding is even affecting the fundamental rights of citizens chief among them the right to life and the right to liberty. Hospitals are also affected by the load-shedding which can stretch up to 15 hours a day putting the lives of some patients at great risk as they depend on medical machinery which uses electricity.
Moreover, on the 19th of March 2012, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu postponed the bail hearing of the Glen View 29 due to a power black-out which grounded business operations at the High court to a halt. This shows the disruptive extent of the power cuts and the insincerity politicians are exhibiting by deliberately prolonging the suffering of ordinary citizens.
The behavior of the politicians of attempting to hide their debts and demanding secrecy in a matter which is affecting the generality of Zimbabweans is repulsive and a symptom of the lawlessness which has characterized the government for more than three decades.
Furthermore, the impunity awarded to defaulters and corrupt officials is testament to the rot which is crippling the Zimbabwean society. Public officials should desist from operating in secrecy and begin acting transparently and accountably.
Instead of blaming ZESA for the exposé, politicians should simply PAY UP their bills and SHUT UP! Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition