Zimbabwe’s struggling power utility has been trying to compel some of its customers to pay for electricity in foreign currency for years now. It seems now they have the government’s blessing. The power utility recently published a notice informing all power users who are foreign currency earners that they would be required to pay their electricity bills in foreign currency. The keyword here is required. It seems once ZESA determines that you are a foreign currency earner you will have no choice but to pay for whatever power you consume in foreign currency.

ZETDC would like to advise its Valued Customers that ZERA has, in terms of the Electricity Act (Chapter 13:19), approved an average tariff of USc12.21/kWh for exporting customers. In addition, foreign currency earners will now be required to pay their electricity bills in United States Dollars at an average tariff of USc10.63/kWh. The adjustment is with effect from 01 October 2022 for Maximum Demand Customers and 14 October 2022 for the rest of the Customers.

ZESA’s notice

What is good for the goose is not good for the gander

It seems the Zimbabwean government is making a habit of allowing certain players to bill exclusively in foreign currency but it will not afford members of the general public the same privilege. It all started with ZIMRA who were allowed to charge duty in foreign currency even though the government had decided to force everyone to use the Zimbabwean dollar. Recently Harare City Council go their bank accounts frozen when they attempted to charge for certain services in foreign currency. On the other hand, mobile network operators have now been prioritising USD-only bundles. It seems they somehow got the blessing to go ahead behind the scenes.

The government has also been manipulating the entire economy of Zimbabwe into thinking there is a ZWL shortage by engineering a liquidity crisis that has brought most businesses to their knees. While the official rate appears to have been tamed it is all an illusion. The reality is more and more people are switching to the US dollar. The stability in rates is just a pyrrhic victory.