Sunday, 1 September 2019

ZESA GOES AFTER BIGWIGS


ZESA has embarked on a blitz to compel all high-profile people who owe it money to pay up or face prosecution.

So far, several bigwigs including former and serving ministers have appeared in court after Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi empowered the parastatal to recover the money without fear or favour.

The power utility is owed $1,2 billion by consumers, some of whom have not paid a cent in almost a decade.

This comes as ZESA, which is struggling to meet demand due to low water levels at Lake Kariba and  technical challenges at Hwange Thermal Power Station, has indicated that it will soon disconnect all consumers who fail to pay or make a payment plan, ZESA acting chief executive officer Engineer Patrick Chivaura has said. 

Acting on the minister’s instructions the power utility is working on a debt recovery strategy to press consumers to pay their outstanding bills.

Eng Chivaura told The Herald yesterday: “The power utility is not going back on its quest to recover its debts from debtors.

“We have been given the mandate by the Government to put more effort to recover our debts despite one’s position. After failing to comply with our directive, we will be left with no option but to approach the courts of the land to recover the debts.”

Eng Chivaura said it was critical for defaulters to pay their obligations to ensure a steady supply of electricity. 

A number of citizens and businesspeople are complaining about load-shedding yet they do not pay for services rendered.

For instance, the manufacturing sector owes up to $350 million while miners owe $200 million.

Said Eng Chivaura: “In the interest of service provision, the power utility has stepped up credit control measures in order to recover the debt owed in sectors such commercial, mining, agriculture and domestic. All defaulting business are required to make payment plans in order to clear their bills to avoid the inconvenience of service being withdrawn and litigation.”

Letters of demand have since been sent to debtors. Eng Chivaura said they had put in place a payment plan for the production sector, especially the manufacturing sector, mining and winter wheat farmers.

As soon after the winter wheat season is over, ZESA will disconnect power to all farmers who have not paid. He said Zesa was not a charity organisation and everyone had to honour their electricity obligations regardless of status. 

“We have this mechanism to ensure that money is collected and we are now working on a debt strategy to recover that money,” said Eng Chivaura.

Eng Chivaura said: “We want power to be paid for. A number of consumers are owing Zesa and if you don’t pay for the services, Zesa will come to a stage where it will not be able to deliver that service, yet the source of the problem will be consumers.”

He added that Zesa has to remain viable, financing its projects and providing the much needed power to drive aspirations of the Vision 2030 while at the same time meeting farmers, industry and general consumers needs. Herald

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