Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Zesa accused of bias in implementing load shedding

Zesa Accused of Bias in Implementing Loadshedding

30 January 2011

Zesa Holdings has drawn the wrath of its clients countrywide over what many
feel is uneven distribution of power, with some even alleging corruption in
the manner in which electricity load-shedding is conducted.

Clients feel some areas are spared load-shedding because Zesa bosses or
their relatives live in those suburbs. Others have been expressing anger
over the short time they have electricity. In several areas, Zesa clients
say they have no electricity from as early as 6am and power only returns
around 10pm when they have already gone to bed. However, the power utility
has denied the allegations, saying no individual can manipulate

The parastatal also says the reason why some areas seem to always have power
or appear to get preferential treatment is because they are on the same
power line as key State installments and hospitals.The explanation is likely
to do little to appease clients, many who also say the bills they receive
are inordinately high when compared to the amount of electricity they
actually receive.

Readers of The Herald from all over Zimbabwe have over the past months
continuously written to express their frustration with the power situation.
One of them, Memory Msichili of Zvishavane, recently wrote: “Is Highlands
not part of Zvishavane? “…Two weeks without electricity while Makwasha and
Mandaba have continuous power supplies.”

In Svosve, Mashonaland West, people say they are travelling distances of
more than five kilometres so that they can access diesel-powered grinding
mills for their grain because they never have electricity where they live.
Munyaradzi Singizi of Masomera Business Centre said electricity was usually
reconnected around midnight.

“Sometimes, electricity is not restored and the maize bags spend days locked
up in the grinding mill building. Others have to carry their bags to far
away centres where there are diesel mills,” said Singizi.

Readers from places as diverse as Marlborough in Harare, Gweru, Chinhoyi,
Bindura and the Zambezi Valley have all been fuming about Zesa’s service
delivery, vis-à-vis service delivery and bills charged. Social activist Mr
Paddington Japajapa last week called for a “jihad” on Zesa, slamming the
power utility for failing to comply with a Competition and Tariffs
Commission order that the utility issue affordable bills.

“At Zesa, even the professional advice of the Competition and Tariffs
Commission, a legally constituted body, that bills must be reduced by 40
percent fell on deaf ears.

“These institutions do not respect Cabinet and professional advice of such
important technical and legal institutions like the CTC.”

However, Zesa Holdings last week said they were experiencing a power
shortfall due to generation constraints at Hwange Power Station and
maintenance work at Kariba Power Station. Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard
Gwasira said the shortfall was being managed through load-shedding.

“The 2011 load shedding programme is in line with the current average power
supply available averaging 900 megawatts,” he said.

Zimbabwe requires 2 200MW for domestic and industrial use. Mr Gwasira added:
“I, therefore, urge our customers to note that the power supply situation is
dynamic and load shedding on a day will depend on the power available on the

He said load-shedding operated on certain assumptions and when they were not
met, Zesa would “unfortunately” be unable to adhere to the publicised
schedule. The system, he said, used remote terminal units, which in cases –
due to obsolescence – might not work effectively thus requiring manual
interference. However, he said this did not allow manipulation so that some
areas received preferential treatment.

“Load-shedding is not a way of punishing customers, but the only way of
managing demand vis-à-vis supply mismatches.” Mr Gwasira said they exempted
essential services such as major referral hospitals, major water and sewer
installations, national security establishments, major airports and major
central business districts from load-shedding. As such, he said, residential
suburbs near such areas would not experience much load-shedding. He said
winter wheat farming belts also had priority in the interests of ensuring
national food security.

“However electricity architecture sometimes creates a perception of
favoritism in that areas on the same grid as hospitals or CBDs seem to be
getting preference corruptly. I also want to add that Zesa does not condone

On bills, Mr Gwasira said in March 2009, the Zimbabwe Electricity
Transmission and Distribution Company, a Zesa subsidiary, temporarily
suspended billing to iron out technical challenges resulting from the
changeover to multiple currency pricing. He said this saw the interim
measure of domestic consumers paying US$30 (high density areas) and US$40
(low density) monthly.

“ZETDC’s billing system is now fully functional and bills based on actual
readings are now being generated.

“The utility procured over 200 motorcycles and motor vehicles for the sole
purpose of the meter reading operations,” he said. Mr Gwasira said in
exceptional cases were customers received estimated bills, they were advised
to contact their nearest customer service centre with the actual current
meter reading. He expressed concern over customers who had not paid a single
cent to the power utility since the advent of the multiple currency system.
Mr Gwasira said “smart metering” was coming on board soon and would solve
problems concerning estimated bills. The prepaid system allows customers to
manage their own consumption. “It allows Zesa to import more power since
customers would have prepaid,” he said.


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