Zesa debt haunts City of Harare

The Herald

Ivan Zhakata Herald Correspondent

Harare City Council is struggling to service its $ 1.99 billion electricity debt largely coming from water purification from Morton Jaffray Water Works.

This was revealed during a virtual Budget Performance Review meeting held on Wednesday which was attended by various stakeholders and city officials from various departments.

City of Harare budgets manager Mrs Takatadzeyi Musere said the situation has become unsustainable.

“The City of Harare owes Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) $1.99 billion and the city’s monthly electricity bill is now hovering around $1.15 million with Morton Jaffray water treatment plant contributing a larger chunk of the electricity costs,” she said.

“The City must come up with a strategy to curtail the electricity costs and in view of devolution, the local authority needs to consider providing its own electricity,” said Mr David Matumbike the director of Local Government Trust during the meeting.

In a bid to reduce the amounts council owes its suppliers of goods and services, the city has come up with a range of collecting revenue tactics which include hiring debt collectors, water disconnections, litigation, blacklisting, evictions and customer engagement.

On the engagement of debt collectors and water disconnections, Mr Hardlife Mudzingwa, national coordinator of Community Water Alliance urged the local authority to act lawfully and consider the implications of water disconnections during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some residents who participated in the Budget Performance Review meeting called on council to fix its billing system and increase efficiency in its banking halls.
Harare is now owed $105 billion as of June, from $2.5 billion in January.

The Herald