The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has handed over some of its defaulting customers owing $572 million to lawyers as it intensifies efforts to recover money owed by users.
BY TARISAI MANDIZHA
A transmission and distribution unit of Zesa Holdings, ZETDC says it is owed $1 billion by its customers.
Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira told NewsDay on Wednesday that the measures currently underway were in line with its credit control policy and had been necessitated by the need to sustain the prevailing stable power supplies to its valued consumers.
He said ZETDC prepays $7m a month to import 400 megawatts (MW) of power from Hydro Cahorra Basa of Mozambique and South Africa’s power utility, Eskom.
Gwasira added that it was prudent customers appreciated the need to pay for their consumption to maintain security of supply.
Zimbabwe is generating an average of 1 200MW against demand, which sometimes peaks to 2 200MW.
“Credit control is a routine operation within the business model of the ZETDC. It is in the best interests of defaulting customers to pay up their bills or engage the power utility for reasonable payment plans which they should adhere to. ZETDC is paying upfront for electricity imports just like we do in our homes and it is only prudent that customers appreciate the need to pay for their consumption to maintain security of supply,” he said.
Gwasira said ZETDC was currently being owed by customers in all categories that included domestic, mining, industrial and farming.
“The power utility will explore all the possible avenues at its disposal to ensure that it unlocks revenue that is currently locked in defaulting customers,” he said.
Gwasira said the power utility’s stubborn debtors were municipalities, who were taking advantage of the reprieve given by government on non-disconnection to water pumping stations and have so far accumulated a combined debt of almost $300m.
He said ZETDC was also managing key accounts for large customers (major demand consumers) to ensure they settled them as prescribed by their payment cycles.
The drastic move comes after ZETDC on Tuesday warned that it would be tough on defaulters.
It also comes after the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority threw out a request by Zesa to increase tariffs by 49%, saying the tariff should remain at 9,86 cents per kilowatt hour.