Outcry over Zesa prepaid meters

HARARE - The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) says the promulgation of a statutory instrument (SI) by government compelling consumers to purchase their own pre-paid meters undermines consumers’ rights.

Government recently announced a new law that compels all electricity consumers to purchase and install meters with the exception of high density customers, rural customers and light load agricultural customers.

The system is expected to help Zesa’s subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company (ZETDC), recover accrued debts by deducting 20 percent on every electricity purchase going towards servicing the debt, among other benefits. CCZ’s executive director Rosemary Siyachitema however, said that as a principal representative of consumers there were not consulted prior to the enactment of the SI.

“Whatever is contained in the SI has no approval of consumers and is thus, abrasively against the interests of consumers,” said Siyachitema. She pointed out that stakeholder consultations are very important, particularly given the huge impact on the lives and pockets of consumers, leaving the consumer watchdog wondering why this instrument was passed arbitrarily without any prior discussions and warning to consumers.

“CCZ is shocked the SI mentions smart meters, a whole new concept consumers have not been warned nor educated about, and which consumers have to pay for from their own coffers,” said Siyachitema.

Siyachitema protested that there has been lack of education, information and transparency hence major confusion is reigning with regards to electricity debts and how they are being recovered from consumers after the installation of pre-paid meters.

“The issue of 20 percent of electricity debts deductible from current paid bills has never been fully articulated to consumers,” Siyachitema said. - Business Writer

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