Reduced electricity production at the Kariba Power Station owing to low water levels at Lake Kariba has seen ZESA introduce a load shedding programme, with households and companies going for as many as eight hours without power in a day.
ZESA is too broke to import power to cover the shortfall from regional countries as it owes Mozambique’s Hidroelectrica de Cahora Bassa and South Africa’s Eskom a combined US$80 million.
The power utility’s problems are being compounded by top government officials who have neglected to pay their electricity bills.
The latest official to be dragged to court is Local Government Minister July Moyo, who owes ZESA subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) $414,775 in unpaid electricity bills.
ZETDC is suing Moyo at the High Court claiming payment of the outstanding amount after efforts to compel him to pay through letters of demand failed.
“The defendant (Moyo) is indebted/liable to the plaintiff (ZETDC) as at May 6, 2019, in the sum of $414,775.79 being charges in respect of power/electricity supplied by the plaintiff to the defendant at the latter’s special request and instance in terms of the running electricity supply contract between the two, for account number 2346569,” the power utility said in its declaration.
He is not the only one targeted in ZESA’s new push to force political leaders and big businesses to pay up.
Former foreign minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi is also at the High Court, accused of failing to settle a $273,150 bill for his Pandamantenka farm in Kwekwe.
Former deputy police commissioner Innocent Matibiri is being pursued over a $167,000 debt
Redwing Mine in Mutare is being sued over a $3.2 million debt, while Metallon Gold owes $9.3 million, according to ZETDC.
Meanwhile, ZESA says it is trying to mobilise funds to settle its debt with regional suppliers to boost imports.
ZESA currently imports 50MW from South Africa and up to 100MW from Mozambique, but can access up to 450MW from the two regional power utilities if it extinguishes its arrears.
ZESA spokesperson Fullard Gwasira said: “As a result of an outstanding payment, the two countries Mozambique and South Africa have reduced exports from their respective utilities to 50MW and 100MW until their arrears have been cleared.”-zimlive