The investigation, codenamed Operation Dandemutande (Cobweb), started in April and has revealed that ZESA officers are deleting accounts with debts and replacing them with new ones that show no money is owing. A report in the hands of The Zimbabwean says the officials colluded with account holders who paid them in cash or kind to destroy their bills.
A memo dated April 15 from an investigating team covering Karoi, Kariba and Mhangura in Mashonaland West province and addressed to the Field Commander of the area gives insight into this massive scam thought to be common in all parts of the country.
The Dandemutande audit, commissioned by Energy Minister Elton Mangoma, targeted unauthorised rural and urban power connections, illegal substations and subcontractors.
According to a document compiled after the investigations, some of the officials alleged to have abused their authority are now on forced leave. The findings reveal that some of them received bribes for as little as $4 to cancel the debts that had accumulated.
Other officials accepted bribes running into thousands of dollars, and in some cases demanded sex from defaulting clients.
Karoi was described as a ‘’haven of corrupt (ZEDTC) workers’’, where investigators said, customers implicated a ZEDTC worker who was being paid amounts ranging from $10 to $20 for ‘‘burying accounts’’.
The same employee also received thousands of dollars from clients with huge bills. He used the Change of Tenancy facility to re-open new accounts that had been closed.
The investigators’ report said an account with a debt of $2,682.11 was ‘‘buried’’ and reopened in the official’s name, adding that, at one time, the corrupt official demanded a beast from a client who owed $984.90.
Officials also accepted bribes running into thousands of dollars, received cattle and in some cases demanded sex from defaulting clients.
In one case, a house was being reconnected every month, with the user paying the corrupt meter readers amounts ranging from $10 – $20.
Only the senior meter reader has been sent on forced leave, and it was not clear at the time of going to print why no action had been taken against the other offenders.
Inside sources revealed that the power utility had not instituted legal action against the offenders from Mashonaland West.
A senior Zesa official working at the Chitungwiza offices confided to The Zimbabwean that cases of ‘’burying’’ accounts were rampant.
‘‘What you have heard about in Mashonaland Central is nothing compared to Harare and Chitungwiza,’’ he said. ‘‘Here, people are buying cars and houses using the bribes they get. Senior employees are involved.’’
He added that Zesa employees had become cautious after learning about Dandemutande. Questions sent to the Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira, had not been responded to at the time of going to print.Post published in: News