Residents have called for more players in the energy sector to break the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) monopoly.
Speaking to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on State Enterprises and Parastatals Management at Masvingo Civic Centre on Sunday, the residents accused Zesa of providing “mediocre services due to lack of competition”.
“It is now obvious, that Zesa cannot supply power to the whole country, hence the interruptions. So there is need to break its monopoly and allow other private energy players into the field,” said Consumer Council of Zimbabwe regional officer, Ndumiso Mgutshini. “
The government should allow more commercial investors to compete with Zesa. What we are consuming is not reflective of what we are paying for.
We are paying for a service which we are not getting. Zesa should do actual meter readings, and not base bills on estimates as we are getting inflated bills which do not tally with most consumers’ salaries.”
Another resident, Joel Mukusha, said: “We are actually surprised to get power because most of the time, there will be outages. What is surprising is the timing of the load-shedding. Power is restored at around 10pm when people are asleep, and then there is an outage at around 5am when we want to prepare breakfast and heat bath water.”
Mukusha also complained of property damages and in some instances human casualties due to electrical faults when power is restored.
Recently, Chiredzi North MP Ronald Ndava, who is a member of the Committee on State Enterprises and Parastatals Management, had his house gutted by fire in a power-related accident.
However, Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira, who was also present at the meeting, said: “Zesa is not a monopoly. There are independent players like Hippo Valley and other mini-hydro players. We apply for tariffs from the Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Authority to approve or disapprove tariff increases.”
Gwasira said Zesa faced challenges in generating electricity because of obsolete equipment and power station some of which were built in 1960.
He also justified the high salaries paid to employees, saying it was part of Zesa’s staff retention scheme.