The Competition and Tariff Commission has ordered the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) to bill their clients on actual meter readings and justify some of their load-shedding programmes.
The commission also ordered that in respect of metered domestic consumers based in Harare and Bulawayo, February 1, 2009 should be used as the starting point of Zesa’s new billing period and that all outstanding charges arising from electricity consumed prior to this date should be written off.
It further ordered that all excess payments made by consumers on the basis of estimated bills and reconnection fees, whose power was disconnected, after having paid according to the minister’s directive, should be credited to the affected consumers’ accounts.
The order was registered with the High Court in terms of section 33 of the Act and served on all relevant parties by the Deputy Sheriff last month. The commission established during investigations that some consumers’ bills had arithmetic errors and balances carried forward on some of the bills were different from the closing balances of the last account.
The commission said during investigations and public hearing, Zesa admitted they had challenges in billing systems in Harare and Bulawayo from January 2009 to October 2009 after their computer system crashed.
Zesa also admitted that during the same period they had limited personnel for meter reading due to brain drain that affected all sectors at that time.
However, the commission ordered Zesa to use actual meter readings when billing to prevent a recurrence of such happenings to protect consumers’ interest.
“The charges in respect of electricity consumed excluding fixed charges between 1st February 2009 until November 30, 2009 should be in accordance with the Minister of Energy and Power Development’s directive, that is $30 per month for domestic consumers in high-density areas and $40 per month for domestic consumers in low-density areas,” read part of the provisional order.
In respect of non-metered domestic consumers countrywide with load limiters, the commission said Zesa must reduce the fixed monthly energy charge to 57%, this being the ratio of power available for use by consumers monthly for the period between February 1 to November 30, 2009.
The commission ordered that all other consumers such as industrial, commercial, mining, farming, schools, universities, hospitals, government institutions and other commercial entities, should approach Zesa and submit their electricity consumption where readings were available.
It said where readings were not available and the parties failing to agree on respective consumption levels, a mutually agreed arbitrator should be appointed to resolve the matter.