The government has ordered Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) to pursue debts owed by bigwigs from across the political divide.
These include service chiefs, members of the judiciary and some members of parliament.
Zim Morning Post understands that a number of influential citizens and top politicians owe ZESA an amount totalling $16million in unpaid electricity bills.
The individuals in question have been ‘sacred cows’ and ZESA had its hand tied in recovering the huge debts which choked the power utility.
On Tuesday, Energy and Power development minister Fortune Chasi made emphasis on the need for consumers to pay debt so as to allow ZESA to deliver its mandate.
He however did not mention the amount owed by bigwigs prompting this publication to make its own investigations.
Information at hand shows that $16 million is owed by these ‘untouchables’ with the chief defaulter being the former First Lady Grace Mugabe whose string of farms did not pay electricity bills against the heavy usage.
“I can put it to you that top chef owe ZESA close to $16 million in unpaid electricity bills at their homes and farms and the minister has ordered ZESA to hunt after them.
“The list is long but the minister has suggested that these defaulters come up with payment plans,” revealed our source.
ZESA is owed $1,2 billion by consumers and government has made a commitment to pay $20 million and also assist government departments and local authorities who are in default.
“We need to deal with the issue of debts.
“ZESA in spite of the numerous demands and complaints that we make as users of power are owed $1,2 billion by local consumers.
“I engaged the minister of finance and he indicated that $20 million is going to be paid to ZESA.
“I would like the money to deal with the issues that are of immense public concern at the moment which means power issues.
“Govt departments are going to be covered. We have local authorities that owe about $350 million to Zesa.
“It is necessary that money is paid, I think the generality of the public owe us another about $450 million that includes people in ZANU PF and MDC-Alliance,” said Chasi.
ZESA has in the past instituted legal proceedings against some of the bigwigs in a bid to recover their money but the perpetrators have used their muscle to evade justice.
This ‘habit’ is set to end as the Energy minister has vowed to make sure ZESA is given what is owed to it to enable repayment of debts accrued at ESKOM.
Farmers have also been pin pointed in the league of major defaulters and seem not keen to pay the bills saying they are “waiting for another debt relief’ that was offered to them in 2013 when government cancelled all electricity and water bills that citizens accrued with service providers, citing the challenging economic environment people were contending with.
At the moment, the country is facing incessant power cuts and load shedding and Chasi has been working round the clock to save the dire situation at a time when Eskom is threatening to pull the plug on Zimbabwe over ballooned debt arrears.