Zimbabwe is working on increasing electricity tariffs so that they reflect the cost of generating or importing power Energy Minister Fortune Chasi told Parliament on Wednesday.
He said this during Parliament’s question time when he was put under pressure to explain when the country, which is now experiencing load-shedding of up to 18 hours, will resolve the power problem.
Chasi said that one of the problems is that the country’s power utility, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, is owed Z$1.2 billion by consumers.
Asked to name and shame the consumers who owe ZESA by publishing their names, Chasi said that would be too expensive as ZESA has about 800 000 clients.
On how ZESA was going to recover its money since most of the consumers are now using pre-paid meters, Chasi disputed this saying he was actually working day-in, day-out to get more people on prepaid meters to manage the consumption of power.
“I also want Hon. Members to understand and I ask them that when they pay for their power, they should look at exactly how much will be going to ZESA as a percentage of what is actually going for the current usage of power,” the minister said.
“We are working on improving or increasing the tariff so that it reflects the cost of generating or importing power. There must be a serious relationship between generation of power and the rate at which people are charged to consume that power.
“So, it is important that we must talk and do something about meters but I am sorry to say to the Hon. Member that we are not at the point where the majority of consumers are on metres. That is not an accurate statement.”
ZESA has been battling to get its tariffs reviewed with the latest request in 2016 being turned down. The last review was eight years ago.
Even local industry says the current tariffs are “ridiculous”.
The load-shedding has affected industry as well as the winter crop. Mobile phone operators have also threatened to shut down when there is no power.
Zimbabwe is currently negotiating with South Africa’s Eskom and Mozambique’s Hydro Cabora Bassa to import power.