Residents up in arms over ZESA disconnection

zesaThe Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) says it will reject a recent decision by government to authorize power utility ZESA to disconnect customers over outstanding payments. CHRA chairperson Simbarashe Moyo told Newsreel on Friday that residents were not refusing to pay, but wanted reasonable bills to be produced by ZESA.

Previously Energy and Power Development Minister Elias Mudzuri set up uniform payments of US$30 and US$40 for high and low density areas respectively. But as Moyo told us, residents are getting bills as high as US$265 in low density areas and US$105 in high density areas.

The bottom line for residents is that electricity tariffs are exorbitant and worse still, most bills are based on estimates and are way above the consumption rate. The association further argued that at least 80 percent of the population is not employed and those who are earn the average US$100 a month. How does government expect these people to survive if they have to part with more than half their salaries for electricity bills alone, the association wrote in a statement. CHRA added that residents have to meet other expenses like school fees, food, water and municipal services.

Newsreel spoke to Energy Minister Elias Mudzuri on Friday and he said residents were being asked to pay the uniform rates of US$30 and US$40 per month. He said since February, when they started the system, most residents have not been paying and ZESA was saddled with a US$60 million power import bill that needed to be paid. He warned that the country was on the verge of being cut off by those supplying it with electricity. For example the Cabora Bassa power generation company alone is owed US$40 million. Mudzuri said ZESA should explain properly to residents that the bills needing payment are those in line with the uniform rates set.

CHRA however say not all residents in high-density areas have bill statements that indicate US$30 as the monthly electricity bill. They said some residents in areas like Kuwadzana and Glen Norah are being charged as much as US$50 a month. CHRA said it is not against bill payments by residents. We understand that residents have the responsibility to pay their bills so that they can also get quality social services, but the bills are simply beyond their affordability and unjustified.

Post published in: World News

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