HUNDREDS of Mutare residents staying in council houses yesterday took to the streets after the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply and Distribution Company switched off power supplies over unpaid energy bills estimated at $2 million.
BY KENNETH NYANGANI
The residents, who have gone for a week without power, accused the local authority of failing to pay energy bills for the properties, but council claimed it was owed over $1 million in lease fees by the same residents.
Some of the residents that were disconnected are from Block, Chimoi and Matida, among others.
The United Mutare Residents’ Ratepayers Trust programmes director, Edson Dube said council should address the matter, which had gone out of hand.
“Most of these people are informal traders, they sell freezits, scones and samoosas. Yes, the residents might owe them, but they should at least know what happens if people in such a sprawling suburb live in darkness,” he said.
“Their only source of livelihood has been destroyed and one wonders how they are going to pay rentals, but they have since said that they have a payment plan to be paid at council.”
One of the residents, who demonstrated, Farai Mamombe, said he has been paying his dues.
“I was paying my dues all along and it’s not fair that I am one of the people who has been affected,” he said.
But council, in a statement, accused the residents of failing to pay their rentals.
Council spokesperson, Spren Mutiwi said they were negotiating with Zesa for restoration of power at the affected houses.
“There have been reports circulating in and around Mutare concerning council’s position on the above. As City of Mutare, we would like to inform our beloved residents and stakeholders on our current position concerning electricity power cuts in council houses,” he said.
“Zesa on May 22, 2018 switched off its connection on a number of council premises owing to the outstanding debt that has accrued to $2 million.
“The decision to switch off came while negotiations between Zesa and council officials were under way on how to retire the debt.”