21 October 2013, Harare – ELECTRICITY consumers across Zimbabwe got an early Christmas present when Zesa Holdings began crediting accounts with units equivalent to US$160 in fulfilment of pledges it made to clear part of clients’ debt.Pre-paid consumers who do not owe Zesa anything got a windfall when US$160 worth of units started reflecting on their accounts last week.
The development follows recommendation by President Mugabe in the run-up to the harmonised elections that service providers should cancel debts to bring relief to millions of Zimbabweans who have been struggling to pay their bills because of sanctions-induced economic hardships.
Zesa undertook to cancel debts for its consumers and reward those who are without arrears with free units. Councils and TelOne have also cancelled the debts with the local authorities completely writing off debts accrued by residents between 2009 and June 30 this year.
Although no official comment could be obtained from Zesa yesterday as spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira’s number was not being answered, it was established that consumers with cash power facilities were already benefiting.
For those with fixed and the conventional meter system, the adjustments are expected to start reflecting at the end of the month according to recent correspondence from Zesa.
Consumers said yesterday that they were excited with the development, which saw some of them being credited with more than 1 000 power units.
Indications are that those whose accounts were up to date were being credited with between 1 600 and 1 700 units, which is equivalent to US$160.
“I bought power for US$20, but I was surprised to see over 1 800 units being credited. I am very happy. With this I am sure I will go for two or three months without budgeting for electricity,” said a Harare resident Mr Thomas Chakabva.
“I was shocked on Friday when I went to buy electricity units for US$10 and I was given 1 700 units. At first I thought there was a mistake until I heard my neighbour saying she was also credited with 1 600 units,” said Bulawayo consumer who refused to be named.
Another consumer from North End in Bulawayo said she owed Zesa US$240 and when she went to buy electricity units on Friday she was told that her debt was now US$80.
“I had an outstanding debt of US$240 and when I went to buy more units they told me that I now owe US$80. However, I know of somebody who was given 1,700 units when she bought electricity for US$10,” said the North End resident.
Some residents, however, said they were yet to benefit from the cancellation of Zesa debt.
“We have not seen any changes, but we hope when we go to buy this week we will be credited as well,” said a resident who identified himself as Mr Ndlovu from Nkulumane 12.
Said Mr Dzikai Masawi from Glen Norah; “I have a fixed metre so I am sure I will get the new balance when I receive my statement.”
Zesa is owed in excess of US$700 million by both domestic and commercial electricity consumers, with domestic users accounting for close to US$300 million.
The collective debt relief for ordinary consumers would be US$90 million while for farmers it will be US$80 million.
– The Herald