The issue of the proposed scrapping of Zesa bills must be dealt with in a sober manner as it has dire consequences for both individuals and the economy at large if not carefully thought out.
Politicians are known for making all sorts of promises during election campaigns, even those that do not make economic sense. Now that elections are over it’s back to business as usual. It would be shameful for the country’s political leaders to continue fiddling while Rome is burning. The economy has taken a knock and it is calling for policies which inspire confidence across the political divide. Political posturing is not what the country needs.
Reports that Zesa Holdings has engaged President Robert Mugabe’s office over the proposed scrapping of electricity bills, arguing the move would be disastrous, are a breath of fresh air.
This is commendable in view of the pending disaster if nobody stands up to the politicians. While politicians have a constituency to please, it should never be with dire consequences.
Businesses by their nature should not suffer silently to whatever decisions are made by government officials in the name of benefiting the people. Zimbabwe is currently saddled with a $10,7 billion external debt. Accelerating the domestic debt which is reaching unsustainable levels will not only further hurt the economy, but also instil a culture of misgovernance which will affect generations to come.
The country has been in an economic crisis for far too long because of businesspeople that decided to watch and do nothing when govervenment was making populist and costly decisions.
If the country is going to prosper we need leadership at Zesa that is able to stand up to government and advise when it goes wrong.
The calls by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and outgoing Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo that Zesa and Zinwa should follow in the footsteps of local authorities that scrapped water bills is unfortunate.
Zesa officials rightly argue that the power utility cannot slash bills because it has got clients that have been ring-fenced and some of its customers make advance payments which leaves the utility in a precarious position as to how it will treat those customers.
While it brings smiles to the people, the question should be at what cost? Can Zimbabwe really afford to cancel debts when Zesa cannot generate enough power and has to rely on imports from neighbouring countries?
What will happen to the already struggling industries if power cuts worsen? It must be remembered that power is a critical enabler in everything that this country wants to do, without which we are doomed.
Will the government, cash strapped as it is, be able to provide funds to Zesa to import power?
It is therefore critical for the incoming government and Mugabe in particular to ensure that whatever decisions are made, especially regarding power, they should benefit the country and not a few individuals.