Electricity blues

elias_mudzuriA week before the FIFA hoopla in South Africa began, the Minister of Energy Elias Mudzuri (pictured) made the following announcement: I have directed ZESA to suspend disconnections to allow the public to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Zimbabweans have had to endure persistent power cuts for as much as 10

Essentially ZESA would suspend its regular programme of load shedding so that football fans would not miss the World Cup.

While Im not a soccer fan, I was happy, actually jubilant, that we would have a few more hours a day of electricity. I even considered that I might be able to take a proper hot bath, with more than a bucket of water and perhaps even some bubbles. I admit I may have misinterpreted the Ministers remarks. I thought that it would follow that those customers who had been loyal, i.e. had been paying their bills, to the power utility, would also be rewarded.

As with most promises made by politicians, this one failed and even went backwards. I have been disappointed by Ministers before. In fact Im still recovering from the promises made to me by another Minister regarding the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe issuing radio and television licences.

In the case of ZESA, and the electricity delivered to my house, the disappointment is particularly bitter. Our loyalty as ZESA customers feels like its being violated. We paid our bills regularly, even in the confusion that followed dollarisation, the few US dollars that we had went first towards the ZESA bill, even when the meter wasnt being read. When we had faults, we drove the ZESA people around. Under the circumstances, I think we as customers have done more than our fair share of maintaining a cordial relationship with our power utility.

Yet following the Ministers announcement, it seems that now that we have even fewer hours if any power per day. There has been no explanation of this in the paper, and instead ZESA sees fit to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on an advertising campaign, which most notably features half a page of solid black ink. Moreover, the Ministers statement undermines the entire purpose of the advertising campaign, and indeed ZESAs recovery. Its simple, if you didnt pay for the service, you shouldnt get it. The World Cup is no exception.


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