Zesa meters cause furore

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ZESA HOLDINGS pre-paid meters have caused an uproar with some Bulawayo residents complaining bitterly over part payments being demanded upfront by the power utility for them to be registered and connected.

PRIVILEGE SHOKO
OWN CORRESPONDENT

Zesa has in the past three weeks been installing pre-paid electricity meters at most households in the city’s high-density suburbs as it moves to replace post-paid billing.

However, residents that spoke to Southern Eye yesterday expressed anger at Zesa for demanding cash upfront for the power utility to fully install the pre-paid meters yet the new system allowed it to recoup its debt from customers upon purchase of electricity vouchers.

Others pointed out that when the cash power meters were first introduced in other towns and cities, particularly Harare, residents were not required to make part payments.

Patrick Sibanda, a Pumula South resident, said as a result of failure to pay a certain percentage to Zesa, some residents were unable to recharge their cash power.

A Cowdray park resident Moses Gumede said Zesa installed pre-paid meters without residents first clearing their debts and held a certain percentage whenever one purchased power.

“Why are they now demanding part payment? What has changed,” Gumede asked.

Lazarus Maseko from Emganwini said Zesa installed a meter at his house without explaining to him that part payment was required for him to purchase cash power and as a result, he has gone without electricity for a while as he was unable to pay due to the prevailing economic environment.

“Zesa should first consult us on the terms of the prepaid meters rather than just installing them quietly,” Maseko said.

Winos Dube, chairperson of the Bulawayo United Residents’ Association said Zesa was taking advantage of people’s indebtedness to the power utility.

“Zesa is taking advantage of the people with debts and it now becomes unfair to residents as people are supposed to be allowed to purchase electricity without them demanding part payment,” Dube said.

He said Zesa should have communicated with other stakeholders before demanding cash payments upfront, noting that the cash power facility was intended to allow the power utility to gradually recover money it is owed by customers.

“Zesa should have opened up on what percentage they were taking and acknowledged us as stakeholders on the issue of cash power. As we speak, we are not aware as stakeholders what has motivated Zesa to continue burdening residents, who have no money,” Dube said.

Zesa southern regional general manager Lovemore Chinaka said he was not aware the power utility was demanding part payment.

“I am not aware that Zesa is demanding part payment before registering for cash power system,” he said.