Articles

ZESA: The Inconvenient 'Provider' of Electricity

The vision of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) is "To be the preferred provider of electricity and convenience'. Its vision speaks of commitment to the provision of safe and reliable electricity in a fair and cost effective manner yet ZESA's actions are contradictory with its vision and mission.

ZESA has monopoly over the provision of power in Zimbabwe and therefore to continue talking of preference is misleading.  ZESA is taking people for granted by disconnecting power from customers that owe them a few dollars while leaving those that owe hundreds of thousands because of their political power.

Recently, two platinum miners, MIMOSA and ZIMPLATS pledged to pay at least $40 million of ZESA's debt to Mozambique's Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB) electricity utility.
Zimbabwe's debt to the Mozambican power utility is estimated at just under $80 million.   Good as it may be, Zesa should not abuse the gesture and should instead put its house in order and ensure it pays its bills on time. Power shortages remain a major challenge for the business sector that has been forced to seek costly alternative power generation methods such as generators. The power crisis, therefore, requires a collective approach if everybody, including industry, is to benefit.

Across Zimbabwe, residents are concerned with the level of power distribution. Load shedding is inconsistent. Bills in most areas are based on estimates, resulting in huge arrears by electricity consumers. Electric cables in the residential some areas are left bare, exposing residents to serious threats of losing their lives. Suspected ZESA employees are allegedly demanding residents' monetary contributions towards the purchase of damaged electricity infrastructure like transformers. Residents are being switched off for non-payment of the full amounts owed to the power utility. Moreover, the number of deaths as a result of negligence by the power authority is a major source of both concern and discontent. The death of 10 year old Takudzwa Nyandoro who was fatally electrocuted by live cables on March 29, 2012 is a painful case indeed. Apart from not sending an official to apologize to the family at the funeral, the power utility offered 300 dollars to the family as compensation. The death of Takudzwa is one of many cases of similar mishaps by the power utility company. The public has castigated ZESA and called for the parastatal to do its work properly and stop risking people's lives.   It is a warning for the utility to start monitoring its workers. They should put warning signs or barricade dangerous sites like the one that claimed Takudzwa's life. No compensation will ever bring back a lost life.

The mission of ZESA is to provide safe electricity, only the people at ZESA know how many unprotected live cables remain uncovered posing a further threat to lives. The risk posed to property, though not as important as limb and life is an issue that cannot be taken lightly.

The relevant people in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development should come up with a holistic solution to the power woes in the country which are becoming an impediment to the enjoyment of life, business growth and economic development since industry has also not been spared from power cuts. Similarly, the people of Zimbabwe should begin looking at alternatives of pushing ZESA to provide reliable and safe electricity in a free and transparent manner.  Safety should be a priority and ZESA must adopt a serious safety culture and until the power utility
comes up with a lasting solution to this problem, the public remain in danger.

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