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Zesa tariff hike, recipe for unrest

After years of gross mismanagement and debilitating corruption, the residents are now being asked to subsidise the looming collapse of once efficient parastatals  that were the envy of the region.

There is one thing that has become clear;  even after hiking the tariffs by any percentage, there is no guarantee whatsoever that the residents will get an uninterrupted power supply from Zesa, which has proved beyond reasonable doubt that it cannot meet the nation’s energy needs.

When a parastatal invests in luxury and hefty allowances for senior bureaucrats it can only reap challenges such as those confronting Zesa and as always, it resorts to punishing unsuspecting residents who are already overburdened by the effects of a struggling economy.

I am reminded of 2009 when Zesa made the same ill-advised move of ambushing residents with  a tariff hike and we made it very clear then that as residents, we were not going to foot the increment because we could not afford it. Besides, residents were already failing to pay before the increment so it was illogical to increase the tariffs at that time.

I need to re-emphasise that the same reasons still stand as residents are still failing to pay the current rates and for the parastatal to increase rates at this stage is not only irresponsible but reckless leadership, which must be seen in the context of failed governance. Residents are prepared to resist this unwelcome move by every means at their disposal.

Zesa can improve power supply by installing more hydro-electric generators at Kariba, in the same way as  Zambia is currently doing, instead of relying on importing power.

With the growing demand for energy in the region we are slowly reaching a stage when it will be difficult to import energy from neighbouring countries.
Let me remind Zesa that the solution does not lie in hiking tariffs willy-nilly but in innovative strategic thinking, weeding out mismanagement  and corruption that is threatening its very existence.

The government must urgently intervene in the proposed tariffs hike by Zesa which has the potential of sparking massive protests within communities already reeling under dark days and nights resulting from power cuts.

Simbarashe Moyo,
CHRA chairperson.

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