Government has finally approved the Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Commission (Zerc) proposals to increase electricity charges from Thursday September 1 to an average 9,83 US cent per unit, a move that will further strain the majority of Zimbabweans already struggling to make ends meet.
According to reports, the unexpected electricity tariff increases were made after extensive consultations, hence the increases are reportedly designed to make Zesa, the sole distributor of electricity in the country, profitable and be able to fund its expansion.
This latest increase follows another attempt in February this year, which was eventually suspended by Government pending extensive consultations.
Curiously, though, this latest round of tariff increases comes at a time Zesa is struggling to supply electricity consistently, and has embarked on massive load-shedding countrywide.
It’s a point that Zesa has failed to live up to its billing by providing better service to the generality of poor Zimbabweans, as well as companies able to import directly from neighbouring countries vis-à-vis South Africa, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
While Zerc maintains that Zesa’s request for a tariff rise was justified, and that Zimbabweans are still paying less than any others in the region, the majority would argue that people have been forced to pay the parastatal on the understanding that service would improve but that has dismally flopped.
Zerc administrator Peter Mufunda said: “We are still the cheapest in the Sadc region because in other countries the charges range between USc 13 and USc 14 per kilowatt/hour. People have to appreciate that Zesa, like any other company, is affected by the economic pressures. As electricity consumers, we are the owners of Zesa and if we want electricity there is need for us to capitalise the company by paying for the service.”
One would want to argue that people are not against tariff increases per se, but are frustrated and disappointed because Zesa has failed to live up to its billing.
Just last Wednesday, the country was completely plunged into darkness, and Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira’s explanation was not convincing at all.
Besides, Zesa has over the last few months embarked on a massive load-shedding that has resulted in the majority of this country being affected.
Hardly do consumers receive consistent electricity supply. The reasons have been vague.
If it is true that the power failure was caused by systems disturbances at Kariba and Hwange, then why has Zesa failed to refurbish and/or replace the generators which are always failing?
What guarantee is there then that this latest increase would result in money raised in the process used to revive the ailing Zesa by properly using capital for the benefit of the public?
The problems facing Zesa with regard to electricity supply simply points to poor management by Zesa managers, whose selfishness has somewhat severely affected its service delivery to the people.
The country cannot forever be on load-shedding and losing more money.
People are paying astronomically huge bills by Zesa, but one wonders where that money is taken to and why electricity generation in Zimbabwe has failed to improve in a long time.
Zesa must measure up to reality – it is not a charity organisation. It must help people help it by delivering good service for the benefit of its consumers.