ZESA cuts off service after Bulawayo residents attack worker

zesaAn engineer for the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) was assaulted by residents in the high-density suburb of Pelandaba in Bulawayo earlier this week, as he tried to disconnect service to those with unpaid bills.

Our Bulawayo correspondent Lionel Saungweme reports that the ZESA employee, who refused to disclose his name, described his injuries as serious after he was released from hospital. Pelandaba residents were angered even more when ZESA removed a transformer in retaliation for the attack, leaving those who had paid their bills without service as well.

Residents have complained that ZESA signed an agreement which stipulates that service would not be cut off for any residents who pay at least $40 per month. But the parastatal is sending them bills that are estimates of between $70 to $150, and not actually reading their meters. Engineers are then sent out to disconnect service for anyone who does not pay the estimate.

According to Saungweme, residents have become fed up with this billing system, and with the constant load shedding, which leaves them without power on a daily basis. Many have joined together to block ZESA crews and vehicles from accessing their homes to disconnect the service and this has led to violent incidents.

Saungweme said businesses are also being affected; One business received a bill for $3,000 this month and one for $2,000 last month. A shop in Bulawayo could not possibly be using that much power.

For years now ZESA, like all the other government owned enterprises, has been plagued with mismanagement and corruption. Several ZANU-PF appointed executives have headed the parastatal and received large salaries without making any improvements. And ZESA workers have long been suspected of using their specialized tools to steal copper cables, which are worth a lot of money.

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