ZESA should put everyone on pre-paid service to instill discipline and reduce $1 billion it is owed


The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority should put every consumer on pre-paid service regardless of status to instill discipline in the use of electricity and reduce the $1 billion that it is owed by consumers, a parliamentary committee says.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy also urged the government to take a  leading role in paying its electricity bills, especially its arrears, to ZESA so that the parastatal can undertake critical maintenance and develop new capacity for power generation.

The committee said government departments and parastatals owed the bulk of the $1 billion.

“The committee noted that the amount owed to ZETDC (Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company, an arm of ZESA) stood at US$1 billion and is growing, thereby undermining the parastatal’s capacity to pay for emergency power supplies, undertake critical maintenance and develop new capacity for both generation and transmission of infrastructure.

“It is saddening to note that government has also contributed to the problems facing ZETDC by failing to pay its bills. The committee therefore recommends that in 2016, government takes a leadership role by paying up its electricity bills arrears.”

The committee said one of the best ways to reduce the amount owed to ZESA was to put everyone on pre-paid service regardless of status.

“Government should allow ZESA to install prepaid meters to all electricity users irrespective of one’s status in the society. This will improve revenue collection by ZESA and instill discipline in the use of electricity,” the committee said.

The pre-paid service saves ZESA from billing customers or following them up as they have to top up their power when it runs out. ZESA also deducts a small amount to service customers’ debts when they top-up.

ZESA has so far installed about 540 000 pre-paid meters and has just been granted permission to install another 188 000. It was given a target to install 800 000 pre-paid meters by 2018.

The government is currently struggling to pay salaries for civil servants. More than 90 percent of its 2016 budget will be consumed by salaries leaving very little to service debts and for capital expenditure.

Zimbabwe is currently relying on taxes to finance its operations as lines of credit were cut more than a decade ago when it defaulted on its payments to the international financial institutions.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa promised to pay the arrears, now totaling about $2 billion, by April so that the IFIs can open new lines of credit.


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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