Sakubva residents protest electricity disconnections

MUTARE - Hundreds of residents in the high density suburb of Sakubva took to the streets on Thursday, protesting the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (Zetdc)’s decision to switch off power to council-rented houses over a $2 million debt.

Zetdc, a unit of Zesa Holdings Limited, pulled the plug on Tuesday last week because it has not been receiving payment from Mutare City Council (MCC), which is supposed to be making the electricity payments on behalf of tenants who are staying in its properties.

Council officials are, however, passing the buck, saying it has not been possible for them to keep pace with Zetdc’s power bills because its tenants are reneging on payment of their rent and rates.

Residents who stay in council-rented houses owe MCC about $1,1 million.

Overall, council is owed in excess of $50 million by residents, government departments and corporates.

On Thursday, the affected residents from Maonde flats, Matida flats, and Blocks besieged council offices in Sakubva, demanding that the city fathers to do something about their situation so they could be switched back on.

The development came as council was negotiating with the Zesa subsidiary on how to retire the debt.

In the statement, council is blaming the huge debt on failure by its tenants to pay for the services it is offering them despite having highly subsidised fees which exclude electricity charges.

“Council… with a view to assist the community came up with highly subsidised rates which range from $21 to $28 a month per household.

“The subsidised figure caters for the following services — rentals, water supply, refuse collection, sewage and maintenance. There is no provision for Zesa on their rentals tabulated as follows: rent $12.50, fire charges $1, education levy $1, sewerage $5.75, water $7.50, street lights $1.

“However, many of the residents have failed and have continued to default in paying the required amount for the above mentioned services leading to debt accumulating, which in turn has forced Zesa to disconnect power.

“For Maonde flats, Zesa is requesting payment of $528 549.72 whilst for Matida flats, Zesa is requesting $382 005. With almost nothing coming in from the residents, council can’t pump money when residents are neglecting their obligations,” reads part of the statement.

“Council is billing $39 000 for its rented accommodation against monthly Zesa bills of $30 900 for the same area.”

Council said it continues to negotiate on a payment plan but urged residents to also play their part to ensure quality service delivery.

“Whilst we are negotiating, we urge residents to come up with a clear payment plan and down payment… For service delivery to be effective, it demands both residents and council to play their part, failure by any of the two parties to perform their obligations disrupts the smooth flow of service delivery.”

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