Residents of Gwanda’s high-density suburb are bitter over failure by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) to connect electricity to their homes for the past 10 years.
Siboniso Nyathi, a resident at the suburb, told NewsDay on Thursday that over 100 housing units were built in 2000 but they still did not have electricity.
Residents are worried about having spent 10 years without power, their neighbours at the Hlalani Kuhle or Garikai houses, built to accommodate victims of Murambatsvina less than five years ago, already have power.
Nyathi said when residents approached Zesa asking for electricity they were told the company did not have transformers.
“We are now confused and we regret having built houses in this area. Our children do not know electricity. This is horrible,” said Nyathi.
“When we approached Zesa’s customer services officer, he said there is a shortage of transformers and at some point we were told to contribute R5 per household meant for repairing a second-hand transformer. Nothing however came out of those contributions,” said Nyathi.
They said efforts to get assistance from the local leadership such as the Mayor of Gwanda, Lionel DeNecker, local Member of Parliament, Patrick Dube and the provincial governor Angeline Masuku had not yielded anything.
“All these people know about our situation but none of them has done anything to assist and we do not know where to go for assistance,” said Nyathi.
Gwanda mayor Lionel DeNecker confirmed the crisis saying the disgruntled residents had approached his office several times complaining about the issue.
“It is true the houses are not connected and we have tried and tried to persuade Zesa to connect them or allow them to purchase electrical gadgets but Zesa is telling us that it is national policy that consumers are not allowed to connect themselves or even to purchase their own transformers,” said DeNecker.
He said Zesa claimed the power problem was a national crisis and as such, Gwanda residents had to be patient.
The residents rely on firewood for cooking while some have purchased generators for lighting. Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira said there were two reasons which caused the delay in power connection.
Either the site was not approved for power connection, or the power utility had financial problems.
“But ten years without power is too much and very unreasonable,” Gwasira said.
“There must be something causing that delay. It is possible that the suburbs’ site is not approved even if it was constructed under council’s approval.
“We should not take that long to connect consumers. It is likely that the suburb is not approved and as such that may delay its connection,” said Gwasira.