Residents form money clubs to pay ZESA

Poor Bulawayo residents have formed 160 money clubs in order to pay the cash-strapped Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority. The Joint Initiative for Urban Zimbabwe, a community based support to vulnerable urban populations, has spearheaded the programme.

Irene Phiri from Mzilikazi high density suburb said: “Most of us had been cut off and our bills had sky-rocketed. So we decided to come together and form a money club because most of us could not afford to pay the debts. We pleaded with the utility at their Head Office and we were given a two months’ deadline to make sure that we had paid our bills in full,” she said.

Beauty Mpofu, a mother of three, from Gwabalanda high density suburb in Luveve, said she was also facing huge bills and while she had not joined the money clubs she was seriously considering the move.

The groups are divided into 50 households each contributing $5 every week and $25 is paid to accounts belonging to 10 house holds that are systematically chosen. The clubs still have a long way to go to clear the debts which have accrued over the last three years and are still rising. Some residents confirmed that they owe more than $3 000 to date.

“We still have overwhelming problems because most of the residents here are unemployed and elderly,” Phiri said. “They still cannot afford to pay the monthly bills so that at the end of the day what we are trying to do is not helping much.”

Several residents asked in Bulawayo have suggested “work for power” initiatives whereby they would get their bills paid off through group work for Zesa such as cleaning offices, slashing grass, painting, digging or filling trenches and repair work.

The Minister of Energy and Power, Stanley Mangoma, last month said Zesa would be cutting off all defaulters in Zimbabwe, especially large firms that owed the utility hundreds of thousands of dollars. But no action appears to have been taken yet.

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