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Zesa issues ultimatum to defaulters

POWER utility Zesa has issued a six-month deadline to defaulting commercial consumers to settle their bills as part of efforts to recover a cumulative US$1,1 billion it is owed by electricity users, businessdigest has learnt.

Tinashe Kairiza

By December last year, the state enterprise, which is technically insolvent, registered accumulative losses of US$500 million.

Zesa’s recent application for a tariff increase from US9,8 cents per kilowatt hour (Kwh) to US15 cents per kilowatt hour (Kwh) was shot down by government. The troubled company owes domestic and international suppliers about US$1 billion.

In a statement, the power utility said it would take legal action to recover the staggering debt owed by defaulting consumers.

“In the interest of service provision, the power utility has stepped up credit control measures in order to recover the debt owed in sectors that include: commercial, mining, agriculture and domestic,” read part of the statement by the utility’s subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company(ZETDC).

“All defaulting business consumers in the commercial, mining, industrial and farming sectors are required to make payment plans in order to clear their bills within six months to avoid the inconvenience of service being withdrawn and litigation.”

In March last year, Zesa managed to recoup US$35 million it was owed after it disconnected over 37 000 defaulting consumers. Industrial power consumers have fiercely rejected proposals by Zesa to increase tariffs, citing that an increase would derail efforts to expand the country’s shrinking manufacturing base.

The cost of power in Zimbabwe, at around US 10 cents (Kwh), is among the highest in Africa with Zambia and Ethiopia charging US 5 cents (Kwh) and US 6 cents (Kwh) respectively.

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