HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsViewpoint: Tariff increase: Rewarding Zesa mediocrity?

Viewpoint: Tariff increase: Rewarding Zesa mediocrity?

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At least half of high-density residents have been badly affected by load-shedding — in their personal lives and financially.

Some people have taken a number of substantive measures to cope with load-shedding, with those more likely to have acted being the more affluent.

Whose fault do people think all this is? And what are the longer-term consequences? What have been the effects? What actions have people taken?

The communities seem outraged by Zesa. The public feel that because they are paying for their power then there should be no prolonged load-shedding.

Yes, it is Zesa’s fault that they never placed a national power back-up system, but we do have to live with it for a while unfortunately.

But Zesa does claim that they are doing everything possible in order to accommodate everyone.

People are saying though they are not living up to any of their promises made in the beginning.

In fact, Zesa has made many claims and promises, but were outdone by their lack of performance and failure to deliver.

People have been outraged and disgusted by the load shedding, but at the same time they feel helpless.

This anger will be directed at both Zesa and the government as people feel both should carry the blame.

It is important for both Zesa and the government (at all levels) to realise the extent of this anger, especially when communicating to people about load-shedding, power outages and the saving of electricity.

Many people, especially the more affluent, have taken various steps to ameliorate the effects of load-shedding, with standby lighting, gas equipment and generators being the most frequently purchased items.

Long-term effects on the economy are felt to be serious and protracted and there are mixed feelings about the effect on their livelihoods.

So, allowing Zesa’s requested 31% tariff increase would be reckless according to a cross section of society. Expecting in particular, the public to condone a 31% tariff increase was without grounds or basis.

It is the public’s view that an agreement to any additional tariff increases is being reckless in light of the prevailing failures by the government and mismanagement on the part of Zesa.

The electricity crisis which we are facing has been fraught with Zesa mismanagement and failure — the mismanagement has led to a serious loss of confidence in the power utility’s ability to manage its own affairs, both from a financial as well as an operational perspective.

An independent multi-disciplinary task team must therefore urgently be appointed to investigate the causes of, and possible solutions to the current crisis.

Merely agreeing to the increases would most probably lead to further mismanagement.
At universities, colleges and boarding schools, final examinations are knocking at the door and by October students will be sitting for their exams, yet power supply remains absent for long periods at night.

To compound these problems, the water pumps at the University of Zimbabwe campus remain off most of the time due to constant load-shedding, causing water crisis in students dormitories.

Tired of the increasing load-shedding day by day, residents in Bulawayo and other urban centres have planned a march sometime this month and boycott paying electricity bills.

People in large numbers are expected to come together to protest against the increasing load-shedding, according to notices.

Zimbabwe currently faces eight hours of rotational load-shedding on a daily basis.

According to Confederation of Zimbabwean Industry (CZI): “Our businessmen are facing a very hard time because of the power cuts. Eight hours of a daily power cut means a clear cut loss in our everyday profit. On an average, we are facing a loss of 60% in our business.”

Daily cut offs for eight hours is a great problem for all people.

Not even hospitals across the country are spared the power cuts. Even hospitals are facing an eight-hour load-shedding. Patients admitted to hospitals are in a very sorry state.

As a result of the unexplained tariff increase, residents in metropolitan areas across the country have vowed to resist the new tariff increases while the CZI plans to take legal action against the Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Commission (Zerc) over effecting of the 31% tariff increase on electricity charges as the body was not properly constituted to make the decision.

CZI believes Zerc is not properly constituted and the apparent use of government officials as proxy for Zerc is illegal and introduces the inefficiency in the regulation of tariffs.

The inflationary ramifications of this purported increase constitute a disaster in terms of competitiveness of local businesses and can also herald a spat of price increases throughout the country.

Besides, Zerc claims to have widely consulted stakeholders.

Revelations are that it is not properly constituted and the apparent use of government officials as its proxy is illegal as this introduces inefficiency in the regulation of tariffs.

It remains to be seen how the shaky inclusive government will deal with this issue!

millenniumzimbabwe@yahoo.com

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