Energy Minister insists “chefs” will be disconnected over unpaid bills

Senior politicians who do not pay their electricity bills will be treated like any other consumer and be disconnected, the Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma has said.

Elton Mangoma
Elton Mangoma

Last week Mangoma told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy that some cabinet members, MPs and senior civil servants were refusing to pay money owed to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA). One unnamed official owed as much as $100,000.

Mangoma told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that disconnections had already started and were being applied equally to all those who fail to pay ZESA. But he would not be drawn on naming exactly which politicians had already been disconnected or how much they owed.

“I will not say this one was disconnected or that one will be disconnected. That’s not my business. Whatever we say is the policy is being applied to everyone,” the Minister said.

Mangoma made the comments following complaints by the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), who told SW Radio Africa that their members were being disconnected while “chefs” who owed more still had electricity.

Mangoma admitted this had been true, saying: “There had been some people, whatever category and however chosen I wouldn’t know, who were not being treated the same as others. A consumer is a consumer and they must be treated equally.”

ZESA is implementing a new policy, which requires 25 percent of outstanding bills to be paid to avoid disconnection or before power is reconnected. The balance is to be paid in agreed amounts for a period of no more than six months.

Mangoma explained that this initiative aims to make it easier for customers, because ZESA employees were at times just switching off power without first notifying people. “We want to mold and change that culture in order to give customers recourse,” he added.

ZESA is owed $450 million in outstanding bills and Mangoma said the money is needed to make repairs, buy spares and service a debt of over $80 million, owed to the Cahora Bassa dam project in Mozambique.

The Minister said Zesa’s infrastructure had been neglected for years and a huge debt had been allowed to accumulate.

You can hear more on the new ZESA initiatives and a response from the Combined Residents Association, on Crisis Analysis after the news) SW Radio Africa

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