Zim Gvt moves to clear municipal power debt

Business Zimbabwe

Ndaka Majaka

THE Zimbabwe Government has stepped in to clear the Z$400 million debt
owed to its power utility, Zesa Holdings by various local authorities, a senior Government official has revealed.

Energy and Power Development deputy minister, Magna Mudyiwa, told
delegates at the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Energy Sector
Crisis Meeting that Government will assist local authorities who have been
switched off by Zesa, to settle their debts.

Local authorities make up a substantial part of the Z$1,2 billion owed to the power utility by domestic customers.

“Government has already paid the Z$23 million it owed to Zesa. Efforts are
now underway to make municipalities and councils pay their bill which is over Z$400 million,” she said on Monday morning.

It is anticipated that recovery of this debt will enable Zesa to improve its
service in light of the on-going power cuts.

Zesa acting Chief Executive, Patrick Chivaura, said the utility was barred by law from disconnecting electricity from critical areas such as water and sewer due to health hazards that might arise thereafter.

“There is a specific law that prohibits us from disconnecting local authorities because it could lead to outbreaks of diseases,” Chivaura said at the meeting.

According to Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi, Harare City Council owes Zesa ZW$145 million, Bulawayo – which is in court with Zesa over defaulting on power payments – owes Z$112 million, while Gweru Town Council owes ZW$28 million.

Kwekwe owes Z$18 million while Kadoma owes ZW$10 million. Tourist resort, Victoria Falls owes the power utility ZW$4 million, Kariba ZW$ 4 million, Marondera ZW$3 million, Chegutu ZW$3 million while Mutare also owes Zesa ZW$ 2 million.

The energy minister is on record as saying while domestic debtors made up 24 percent of Zesa’s ZW$1,2 billion debt book, a paltry Z$55 million has so far been recovered from collection efforts.