ZESA Billing System Chaotic

5 March 2012: The HRT is saddened by the hypocrisy of the national power utility ZESA which has made public pronouncements guaranteeing its customers improved service delivery yet the situation on the ground regarding billing leaves a lot to be desired.

In September 2011 ZESA announced a 31% increment in tariffs but residents’ statements reflect a more than 100% increase in charges. ZESA announced accurate billing for Harare residents on 1 January 2012, this has not happened to date.

In separate meetings with the HRT, ZESA provided contact details for officials to be handling residents’ concerns in the Northern, Southern and Eastern regions but the said officials, Milton Tsenesa, Mrs. Jeche and Mrs Dumbura have been reshuffled several times leaving referred residents stranded.

While we appreciate that the country’s power supplies are limited but ZESA needs to rationalise power fairly. Some suburbs go for extended hours without power at times going for days. The HRT demands accurate meter readings which are reflected in the cost of electricity and denounces all estimated bills. Below is a case on the ground concerning ZESA billing;

There are residents who have prepaid meters removed by ZESA who claim that they would replace them for accurate readings and they have gone for years without meters but continue receiving electricity. No statements are sent to them and inquiries to get account numbers have been futile. Some end up getting bills that are $2 000 and above with the justification that they have not been paying for a long time. An electricity meter which is not working for one year reflected $559.51 Bill Number 192216241.

There are serious irregularities on some ZESA statements and bills. A close analysis of a certain customer’s receipt numbers and those on the ZESA statement shows a number of differences which are as follows:

1. There is a mismatch on the receipt number of those of the consumer and those appearing on the ZESA consolidated statement.

2. The consumer had a credit balance of US$69.00 on 7 September 2010 but outstanding balance shot to $173.99 on October 2010 which he is questioning. The US$173.99 areas was for period 22/03/2010 to 15/10/2010 yet payment were made in this period as follows:

i. US$49.20 opening credit balance on 21/03/2010

ii. US$20 on 13/04/2010

iii. US$15 on 09/06/2010

iv. US$15 on 27/09/2010.

3. Payments made on 27 October 2010 had a wrong address leaving the client with the impression that his payments were credited to the wrong account.

4. Opening reading statements for December 2010 was similar to that of March 2011.

December 2010 opening reading……….109861 and closing reading 110483.

March 2010 opening reading…………….109861 and closing reading 110521.

The same reading was charged twice.

5. On the October 2011 statement it says “Estimate” and “Actual” at the bottom. But this is on consumption figure with actual readings. The same thing was done on the statement of August 2011.

6. 31/10/2011 due date for October statement, 08/11/2011 due date for Nov statement, only 8 days apart.

7. Account holder 1168868 paid $30 on 9 December 2011 while statement reflected $21.54 and was credited with $8.46. January 2, 2012 paid $30 again and received statement on 3 January reflecting a current bill of $90.25. Meter reading on statement 59720 as at December 2011, customer took own meter reading on 27 January 2011 and it reflected 59538 which is less than what ZESA wrote on their own statement.

The HRT is worried and residents continue to be put under immense pressure, being coerced to pay their bills, based on estimates. There is serious corruption and inconsistency within ZESA departments. ZESA should urgently address its billing system.

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