No pre-paid meters for clinics: Council

HARARE - Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company (ZETDC) should not dice with people’s lives by installing pre-paid meters at council clinics, Harare City Council has said.

Councillor Thomas Muzuva yesterday raised the issue during a council meeting alleging that it was tantamount to betting with people’s lives.

“I have noted with concern the installation of pre-paid meters on our clinics for example the one in Malbereign. What if residents do not pay their bills?  What happens to the life of a patient on life support?

“Let us engage them now; they should do that with homes not health institutions. We should not play with people’s lives,” said Muzuva to the approval of council.

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.

Muzuva questioned why ZETDC, which is a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings, was allowing government hospitals to continue with the old billing system.

“I wonder why they are not doing the same with government hospitals, everyone knows that our clinics are not getting any grants from government,” he said.

Though the system is expected to help ZETDC recover accrued debts by deducting 20 percent on every electricity purchase going towards servicing the debt, it has been received with public outcy.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe protested that there has been lack of education, information and transparency on the $300 charge tagged on the meter and how electricity debts are being recovered from consumers after installation.

Zesa Holdings spokesperson Fullard Gwasira was not available for comment as his mobile phone went unanswered.

Harare City Council runs 12 poly clinics that delivers at least 2 500 babies on a monthly basis.

In April this year, Town House, Cleveland House and Remembrance Drive were plunged into darkness when the national power company cut off supplies over an estimated $774 million bill.

The city’s water department was said to be in arrear of $45 million, accumulated over 45 months for electricity supplied to its water treatment plants.

The council bill includes charges for traffic and street lights, as well as for the council-owned properties such as Mbare Hostels, where the electricity company has failed to install meters due to the poor state of the buildings.

However council argues that Zesa Holdings took over its Harare Power Station which could generate electricity for its properties. - Staff Writer

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