Kuwadzana Extension: THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has disconnected nearly 500 households over unpaid bills, which the residents dispute, piling more pressure on the residents, whose water was also disconnected by the City of Harare a fortnight ago over unpaid huge bills.

The Kuwadzana Extension Residents Committee (KRC) yesterday criticized the national power utility for its alleged arrogance, saying the huge bills are beyond the reach of the majority of the people as they are based on estimates. But the residents are defiant. They say they will be forced to confront ZESA employees and city of Harare people carrying out this exercise. This rampant abuse at the hands of errant service providers has to end, they warned, without elaborating.

The KRC reported that 75% of households in Kuwadzana Extension had their electricity supplies cut off two weeks ago by ZESA because residents in the area were not paying their monthly bills and have outstanding debts. KRC leaders agree that most of the residents have not been paying their bills because of the following reasons:

1. They have been struggling to get the money for their monthly payments which they said are unaffordable.
2. They have lost hope of clearing the debts which range between $500.00 to over $2000.00.
3. There is inconsistency in the billing of ZESA as residents have tried to clear their debts but without success.

Efforts by KRC executive to seek clarity on these issues have been fruitless. The residents were told to make payment plans with ZESA to clear the outstanding bills. The KRC has been monitoring service delivery issues in their community, recruiting and mobilizing residents to be aware of their rights.

Consequently they have resorted to reconnecting power supplies as they believe that they have a right to service delivery from ZESA. KRC is also concerned about the failure of ZESA to issue final warnings to the residents before taking punitive measures. Residents feel that this demonstrates ZESAs lack of social consciousness.

There is no doubt that there is brewing conflict between ZESA and its consumers which can only be addressed through dialogue. This will significantly minimize conflict with consumers. Residents have a right to quality and there is always potential for over-billing or under-billing. The following are key issues to help resolve this matter:

1. The way in which the power utility converted the figures in rate payers accounts from Zimbabwe currency to the multicurrency system without a clear formula to calculate the bills.
2. The excessive load shedding which goes for long durations and characterizes all Harare suburbs.
3. The reliance on estimate billing has contributed to high debts
4. The failure to issue monthly actual statements which leaves the rate payer with the perception that they are being over charged.

The HRT believes that the following should be done:
ZESA should do away with estimate meter readings and do bill actual consumption.
The debts that are in the ratepayers accounts be slashed.
ZESA issues monthly actual bills for rates payment.

Ends// For details and comments, please contact Mr Leonard Dzvukwe the KRC Chairperson on 0774464132, or the HRT Membership Officer on 0773249039 or email us on [email protected] /[email protected] or visit our website on www.hrt.org.zw

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