Zimbabwe Power firm writes off US$170m consumer debts

ERERA Power lines15 September 2013, Harare – The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, ZESA, has announced it is writing off US$170 million in debts owed by domestic customers, rural farmers and charity organisations.

The debt relief was capped at US$160 per household, for a combined US$90 million.

The size of the debt forgiveness for farmers is US$80 million.

ZESA said customers will see the adjustment in their October 2013 bills.

The state-run power supplier is owed in excess of US$700 million by both its domestic and commercial customers. Of that figure, domestic users account for close to US$300 million.

ZESA says it expects its customers to settle the remainder of their debts not covered by the relief.

ZESA has been under pressure since the government forced local authorities to write off debts topping US$2 billion accrued by residents between 2009 and June 2013.

While making the directive to municipalities and rural district councils, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo added: “That’s the Zanu PF thinking, that ZESA and ZINWA (Zimbabwe National Water Authority) should do the same on debts. How can you recover a seven-year-old debt? A debt was carried over, but what happened to the money that was in the banks before the adoption of the multi-currency regime?”

ZESA, meanwhile, says it will intensify its effort to ensure all its customers have pre-paid meters installed – a pay-as-you go kind of facility which allows consumers to pay in advance for electricity that they use.

The new system replaces the conventional billing system that had posed challenges to ZESA’s revenue collection.

The power supplier hopes the new system will also see a behaviour change by consumers as they take greater care with the way they use power.

– New Zimbabwe

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