BULAWAYO residents yesterday implored the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy to ensure Zesa employed locals for various jobs instead of recruiting from other provinces.
By SILAS NKALA, STAFF REPORTER
The committee led by acting chairperson Ian Kay, MDC-T legislator for Marondera Central, was in the city for public hearings on the operations of the power utility.
Although the hearing was poorly attended, the few residents present berated Zesa on a wide range of issues, among them the frequent load-shedding, power cuts and alleged unfair employment policies.
There have been concerns by local residents that Zesa managers in Bulawayo employed people, particularly relatives, from outside the city, yet there were thousands of unemployed youths in need of jobs.
In April, some residents led by the Mthwakazi Youth Leaders Resolution were arrested after they demonstrated against Zesa’s move to employ 300 general labourers from outside the region at the Insukamini substation in Emganwini.
“We are surprised that Zesa would bring people from as far as Harare and other regions to cut down trees to clear the way for the installation of power lines,” a resident said.
“Does this mean that people here do not know how to handle axes?” she asked.
“So go and tell Parliament that we want Zesa to employ locals whenever it opens projects here.”
Residents complained bitterly that some of them had lost expensive gadgets due to random switching on and off of power.
Another resident said it was sad that women in most high-density areas had grown old and scruffy because of fetching firewood while they were also arrested by the Environmental Management Agency for wood poaching. Another resident asked the portfolio committee if it was possible to disband Zesa and have Chinese power companies being allowed to service the country.
Anglistone Sibanda for Progressive Residents’ Association called for the opening up of private power supply players to complement Zesa, saying the challenges faced by the utility had a very bad bearing on residents.
“Some countries like the United Kingdom have invested in solar energy as an alternative source of power,” Sibanda said.
“UK is not having a lot of sun shine like us. Why can’t we follow that and have the government investing in solar power which should be supplied through Zesa in efforts to curb the power supply shortages?”
Residents also expressed concerns over some astronomical bills which they receive from Zesa.
“Something must be done with Zesa’s billing system. I remember some time I received a bill of over $1 000 and we queried the figure only to be told it was an anomaly as we only owed the utility $10,” a resident said.
Kay told the residents that their concerns will be included in the national report and tabled in Parliament for discussion and resolution.