HARARE – Zesa Holdings (Zesa) is going after top government and Zanu PF officials, including other influential figures, whose failure to pay for the electricity they use is chocking the power utility —the Daily News can report.
Insiders at the parastatal said Zesa is weighed down by outstanding payments in excess of $1 billion, of which the elite in Zanu PF and government owe a large chunk of that.
To ensure that the power utility and its subsidiaries do not sink and fail their mandate to provide electricity to households and industries, a decision was made to go after the mighty and influential figures who owe substantial amounts in unpaid bills.
A number of politicians were recently hauled before the courts over their failure to service Zesa debts and are either negotiating flexible payment arrangements with the parastatal or pleading their cases in court.
Among the bigwigs are former Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi who owes $327 481 for his Ulva Farm; former Zanu PF member of Parliament for Mbare Tendai Savanhu
$19 000 for his Eagle Estate Farm in Marondera; Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba $43 716 for Wakatai Plot in Concession and former Mashonaland East Provincial minister Ambrose Mutinhiri who owes $54 000 for his Newton Farm.
Energy and Power Development minister Joram Gumbo told the Daily News recently that he has instructed Zesa to compile a list of influential people — including Cabinet ministers and politicians from both the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition — whose debts are ballooning without being serviced.
Gumbo said he has already asked the permanent secretary in the ministry, Gloria Magombo, to give him the full list of debtors and that includes government ministries, senior people in government, companies, farmers, schools and mines.
“I want them listed and we will write to them letters asking them to come up with payment plans and clear their debts. As far as I am concerned, no one is exempted from paying and that includes me,” he said.
Gumbo singled out Sekeramayi whom he said had led by example by approaching the power utility with a payment plan.
“Sekeramayi is one of the most senior politicians in the country but he came to me and said he was surprised to see his name in the press to say he owes yet he has a plan with Zesa. That is what we must do,” said the Energy minister.
Zesa’s communications chief Fullard Gwasira was not at liberty to disclose how much the power utility is owed by politicians although insiders said the amount was in excess of $1 billion.
“In general terms, Zesa is owed something close to $1,5 billion by its customers and the bulk of that amount is owed by influential people especially Zanu PF politicians and government officials,” the source said.
In 2012, the Daily News uncovered what became known as the Zesagate.
At a time the power utility was on a nationwide power disconnection campaign against defaulting consumers, it was revealed that Zesa was conveniently allowing bigwigs, who were stratified under the so-called “sensitive customers”, off the hook.
The defaulters included legislators from across the political divide, judges, provincial governors, ministers and their deputies and permanent secretaries.
Among the highest debtors was Mugabe and his wife Grace, who owed over $345 000 as at December 31, 2011.
At the time, now (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa who was also listed under the so-called “sensitive customers profile” owed Zesa $240 824, 03.