Zimbabwe: Bribes, sex and a ballooning electricity debt

Published on Pambazuka News, by Nhau Mangirazi, August 7, 2013.

A number of Zimbabweans owe substantial sums of money for electricity they don’t receive, while others get free electricity thanks to corruption at Zimbabwe’s electricity utility company.

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), the southern African country’s electricity utility company, is owed over $700 million, with domestic users accounting for nearly $261 million of the debt.  

Some defaulters enjoy free service due to deals organised by corrupt junior workers, asking for bribes to bury active accounts, and officers demanding sex as payment in kind to desperate defaulting women.

Since the dollarisation of the economy in 2009, Zesa has been battling to pay its outstanding international bills.

In Karoi town, about 200 kilometers north-west of Harare, several households said the amounts owed to Zesa are “not real.”

Some officials are buying cars and houses where huge debts are buried in a sophisticated way. The country is losing out financially.

Tellmore Mukarakate, a local resident, is saddled with an escalating debt that Zesa officials are reluctant to stop, besides the fact that he is… not connected … //





Zesa chief executive Josh Chifamba said coperate companies are big debtors, accounting to nearly a third of $730 million.

”The money we are owed is over $730 million and, of this total amount, domestic consumers owe us $261 million.” he said. He called it a ”ballooned debt”.

The Competition and Tariff Commission gave an order in July 2010 that Zesa must exclude fixed charges.

From 1 December 2009 onwards, the charge for such customers must be based “on power availed, taking into account load shedding … All outstanding charges arising from electricity consumed prior to this date should be written off.”

The government resolved that Zesa must not disconnect defaulting customers.

Zimbabwe is currently generating 1 400 megawatts against a demand of 2 200 megawatts at its peak. It is importing the rest from regional neighbours, including Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia among others.
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