Outrage over top government ZESA defaulters

There is growing outrage in Zimbabwe after top government officials were exposed as defaulting on their power bills, with outstanding payments believed to be in the millions of dollars.

A month long investigation by the Daily News newspaper has listed the top ZESA offenders, with Robert Mugabe and his wife owing over US$300,000 to the electrics utility as of December 2011.

Also exposed with more than US$300,000 in outstanding bills were Manicaland Governor Chris Mushowe and CIO boss Happyton Bonyongwe. Others exposed include; Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao, whose bill ran to more than US$54,000; Paddy Zhanda the ZANU PF Goromonzi North MP US$174,000; Women’s Affairs Minister and ZANU PF Mutoko South legislator Olivia Nyembesi Muchena who is US$44,000 in arrears.

The defaulters also included legislators from across the political divide in the coalition government, as well as judges, provincial governors, deputy ministers and permanent secretaries. Morgan Tsvangirai also recently admitted that he had paid about US$5,000 to the electricity provider, indicating that he too was defaulting on his payment. None of these officials have seen their electricity service cut off. (See list below).

ZESA over the weekend made a desperate appeal to defaulting customers to pay their bills, a day after jumping to Mugabe’s defense and insisting that the ZANU PF leader’s bill was up to date. The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company, a ZESA subsidiary, said in an ad that it required funds to refurbish power stations, and urged customers to “pay your electricity bills in time”.

The Daily News revelations have provoked outrage, with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC accusing the state utility of employing an “animal farm” approach to governance, where “some animals are more equal than others”. Daily News journalist Gift Phiri said the reaction has been “overwhelming,” particularly from the average consumer.

“We have had some allegations that we are deliberately trying to embarrass the President. But overwhelmingly people are angry,” Phiri explained.

ZESA has started a countrywide campaign to disconnect defaulting individuals and companies, further provoking already angry customers who have faced months of blackouts. Precious Shumba from the Harare Residents Trust told SW Radio Africa that normal residents are bearing the brunt of ZESA’s economic problems.

“People are being cut off for tiny bills and yet there is sometimes only two or three hours of power in Harare a day. ZESA should first be cutting off those officials whose bills run into the thousands. Not the average consumer,” Shumba said.

He added: “Zimbabweans deserve better. These government officials are living large and they have forgotten their mandate to their citizens.”

The following were the major VIP ZESA defaulters as of December 31, 2011 as listed by the Daily News. This list is in no particular order.

1. Paddy Zhanda – $174,000

2. Saviour Kasukuwere – $100,602.22

3. Simbaneuta Mudarikwa – $12,000

4. Mable Chinomona – $5,904.98

5. Brig Gen Ambrose Mutinhiri – $13,000

6. Joel Biggie Matiza – $15,710

7. Olivia Muchena $44,000

8. President Mugabe and Wife’s farms $345,000

9. Aneas Chigwedere – $8,000

10. Oriah Kabayanjiri – $29,029

11. Marian Chombo – $175,085

12. Faber Chidarikire – $22,395

13. Joey Bimha – $7,967.76

14. Amos Midzi- $34,056.05

15. Munyaradzi Kajese – $23,483.45

16. Walter Chidakwa – $7,618.31

17. Patrick Zhuwao – $54,407.31

18. Bright Matonga – $11,607.12

19. Henry Muchena – $31,800.56

20. Munyaradzi Mangwana – $41,512.94

21. Kudakwashe Bhasikiti – $77,828.66

22. Shuvai Mahofa – $9,299.41

23. Stan Mudenge – $9,478.35

24. Samuel Mumbengegwi – $4,961

25. Titus Maluleke – $16,857.33

26. Chris Mushowe – $367,606.07

27. Happyton Bonyongwe $350,989.48

28. Tamsanqa Mahlangu $2,248.34

29. Kembo Mohadi + wife – $12,38.57

30. Hwange President's Office – $8,863.37

31. Paul Gunda – $7,517.68

32. Kasukuwere & Co. – $6,733.89

33. Didymus Mutasa – $179,590.31

34. Enock Porusingazi – $186,525.46

35. Oppah Muchinguri – $53,699.69

36. Zanu PF Mash West Office – $2,792.45

37. John Nkomo – $1,402.28

38. Misheck Cheda – $5,959.78

39. Samuel Sipepa Nkomo – $ 2,238.60

40. Fletcher Dulini Ncube – $3,256.90

41. Giles Mutsekwa – $1,656.38

SW Radio Africa

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