The essence of this press conference is to acquaint you with the position of the electricity supply situation, service delivery by the power utility, setting the record straight on the disconnection of non-paying customers, position of electricity imports and the general relationship with suppliers of electricity imports.
There is a need for electricity consumers to pay for what they have consumed so that Zesa has capacity to increase electricity availability to all consumers. This is then done through more rigorous maintenance, increased imports and installation of new capacity.
It is very disheartening to note that there are still customers who have not paid at all since the advent of dollarisation in 2009, but yet these people still expect to benefit from uninterrupted power supplies, part of which is imported from the region.
This culture of non payment of bills will not be allowed to continue. I take this opportunity to thank and applaud those customers paying their bills.
Zesa has intensified efforts to collect outstanding bills. The programme is critical for sustaining operations i.e. carrying out maintenance, and supporting the importation of electricity. There are prospects for increasing imports from new stations being developed in the region.
Zesa is currently in discussions with the concerned developers and has to position itself as a credit worthy off taker to be able to tap from these sources. I therefore urge all our customers to pay their bills on time and to bring all their accounts up to date.
We have to come out of the vicious circle where because bills are not paid, supply reliability is compromised, and maintenance cannot be carried out and imports cannot be paid for. Payment of bills is very important as we take measures to build new power stations. We cannot raise funds to build new power stations when the current of non payment prevails.
Zesa has availed to customers a facility to propose workable plans, and regrettably some customers have chosen either to ignore this or not to honour their payment plans, leaving Zesa with no option except to withdraw supplies.
Disconnections of electricity
The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has intensified credit control to all defaulting customers so as to encourage them to settle their outstanding amounts.
It is important to note that disconnection of electricity supplies should always be undertaken as a last resort action after non-payment of bills and failure to proffer credible payment plans.
Power connections are currently being applied wholesomely to ensure that all customer categories meet their obligation of paying for service rendered. ALL CUSTOMERS currently in arrears run the risk of disconnections. ZETDC is owed over US$450 million by customers, revenue that could be used to pay for electricity imports, purchasing of spares for infrastructural maintenance, fund for coal deliveries, among other areas for the good of the nation. However, disconnections in future will be done after providing a disconnection notice for a period of at least five days.
Accuracy of bills
It has come to my attention that some of the bills are not accurate and in some cases fraudulent. I have instructed Zesa to attend to all queries that the customers have so that they are satisfied with the accuracy of their bills. I have been assured that the bills do not include pre-dollarisation consumption. Those not clear should have their bills verified.
For the avoidance of doubt, this is the policy that Zesa is going to implement to address the debtors position.
To avoid disconnection, or for those who have been disconnected, so as to be reconnected: –
– A minimum down payment of 25 percent of the total bill has to be paid.
– Balance to be paid in an approved payment plan with Zesa for a period not exceeding six months.
– Any customer who breaches the payment plan will be disconnected immediately without further notice.
– Current bills to be paid in full.
As a ministry, we have taken a position that all defaulting customers will have their service withdrawn as an encouragement for them to pay up their bills. This policy will be applied to all customers fairly, without fear or favour. May I make it clear that the current disconnection exercise is not sparing anyone.
Customer service issues:
The ministry has received calls of poor customer relations by some staff members of the ZETDC wherein frontline are vindictive where disconnections are being done without due processes being followed and where some employees are conniving with customers to prejudice the power utility of its much-needed revenue, among other unbecoming behaviour. May I make it clear that such unbecoming behaviour and bad customer relations will lead to severe reprimand, including immediate dismissals, as such elements have no place in such a critical organisation to the socio-economic fabric of the nation.
Zesa Holdings has always enjoyed cordial relations with Hydro Cahorra Basa (HCB) for the provision of power imports. Plans have been put in place to ensure that Zesa conforms to an agreed payment plan. Currently the debt stands at about US$80 million, down from about US$100 million a few months ago. A further payment of US$40 million is planned for in the near future and arrangements for this are at an advanced stage. The HCB debt is to be serviced well if we are to avoid disconnection. A delegation of HCB is coming this Sunday for further negotiations with Zesa and we need to provide a concrete payment plan.
ZETDC recently concluded contract negotiations with successful bidders on the prepaid metering project. The installation will be done by the meter suppliers and this strategy is to ensure that the roll out takes place within the shortest possible time and the plan is to have the meters installed over a period of 18 months. The meters being procured will put to rest the issue of customer complaints as regards billing bills perceived as huge, and allow customers to manage their consumption. Zesa has since exhausted the 10 000 prepaid meters it had in its inventory and is concluding negotiations with four suppliers of meters over installation.
Expansion projects (Batoka Gorge)
At the 29th ZRA Council of Ministers Meeting (COM) the issues regarding the ex-CAPCCO assets debt and the Batoka Hydro Power Project were discussed and concluded as follows:
Zambia accepted the payment of the principal debt amount of US$70.8 million by 31 March 2014. A Settlement Agreement for the ex-CAPCCO assets debt was signed by the two governments. The COM agreed that a Committee led by the Zambezi River Authority and including officials from the two ministries responsible for energy immediately start taking steps to implement the Batoka Gorge project. The ministry is setting up a project implementation of the Batoka Hydro Power Project. The first objective is to set up agreed timelines and terms for engaging Independent Power Producers to enable the Authority to call for expressions of interest or going to international tender as soon as possible. Batoka Gorge will produce 1600 to 2000 MW of power, 50 percent of which will be for Zimbabwe.
I thank you.Post published in: Africa News