The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is fighting to take over the distribution of power in the country’s second-biggest city.
The local authority used to distribute power in the city through an Act of Parliament, before the responsibility was handed over to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa).
Speaking before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on State Enterprises and Parastatals at the Small City Hall on Saturday, Bulawayo city engineer Simela Dube said power distribution should be the responsibility of the local authority.
“If you look at it, we (BCC and Zesa) are targeting the same person. At the end of the month, we print a statement and Zesa also prints a statement, which are targeted at one person. In all honesty, there is no need for Zesa to be going around building revenue halls next to our revenue halls, all targeted at the same person.
“As BCC we are not looking at the generation of power, but we are asking to be given the responsibility to distribute power here in Bulawayo,” he said.
Dube also said Zesa’s load-shedding was affecting the city’s waterworks.
“The issue of interruption in terms of power in the water-pumping system is huge. The city’s budget is about $600 000 per month on providing water and constitutes about 40% of the entire monthly budget. We have to pump 24 hours and therefore the power supply interruptions greatly affect us,” he said.
Several residents who made presentations at the meeting also called on government to allow the local authority to regain its power distribution responsibility.
“Can you please talk to the government to return the power station to BCC? Power distribution should return to BCC. We will be happy if power can be managed by the local authority,” one resident said.
Another resident said when the local authority was in charge of supplying power to the residents, it was affordable and available.
The city’s Ward 1 councillor Edward Manning said: “You (government) acquired our power station through an Act of Parliament. That was a functioning power institution, and now we are suffering without power.
“The result of load-shedding is that the environment is affected.
“The bushes that used to be preserved are now all gone. We have areas like Emganwini that have gone for 10 years without power connection. The rate of development is not met with the same development in terms of power supply.”