The government has committed to pay the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) part of the electricity bills that its departments owe the power utility, Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi has revealed.
Speaking at the post cabinet briefing in the capital on Tuesday, Chasi said he was assured by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube that the Reserve Bank will pay ZESA and he also highlighted that consumers owe ZESA money running into millions of dollars in unpaid electricity bills.
“ 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,” he said.
Farmers have been the 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.
Zim Morning Post has it on good authority that a high powered negotiating team was dispatched to South Africa a fortnight ago to agree on payment plans with Eskom as the power utility seeks to sanitise the omissions and commissions by the outgoing management led by Josh Chifamba.