This past week ZESA issued a stern notice warning that prepaid partners who had outstanding bills would soon not be able to buy electricity instead whatever amount they attempt to buy ZESA tokens with would be used to pay up what they owe. That’s not the right strategy in my opinion but before we get into that below is the full statement from ZESA on the issue.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) would like to thank its valued customers for positively responding to the call to clear the outstanding balances.

Further to the seven-day moratorium that was given to defaulting post-paid customers, Prepaid customers with outstanding debt are hereby notified to clear their outstanding debt within the next three months ending June 2022.

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A three month period has been extended for owing customers on prepaid meters to clear their debts with the expectation that the customers will clear at least a third of their debt before they can purchase power for the month.

It is expected that a third of the debt be paid by April 2022 and the final third be paid by June 2022. After the 3 months, the full amount owing should be cleared before any purchase can be made.

The value of the outstanding debt that has not been cleared through the current 50% redemption on token purchases has not been able to retire the debt over the years and the Authority cannot afford to have service delivery getting compromised by the debt overhang.

Customers are advised to register their accounts on the ZETDC self-service portal (https://selfservice.zetdc.co.zw/) to enable them to check their debt balances or refer to their latest ZETDC Purchase Token Receipt or visit the nearest ZETDC office.

Full statement from ZESA

A payment plan ought to suffice

It’s rather surprising that there are still people who are on prepaid that still owe ZESA. From the early days, the prepaid system was supposed to prevent these sorts of debts from building up. In fact, during the early phases of the prepaid electricity program, ZESA would prioritise changing over those post-paid customers that had debts. They would then force a payment plan upon the customer when they were moved to prepaid. Under these payment plans whenever the customer made a purchase, part of what they paid would go towards the debt.

Eventually, little by little the debt would be paid up. That was the perfect plan and even to this day whenever you buy electricity units you actually get a message telling you about what portion of your purchase went towards the payment of your prior postpaid debt. It seems this message is zero these days. This means that ZESA’s prepaid system has the functionality to impose a sensible payment plan, they are deliberately choosing not to. Instead, they are opting for this blunt 3-month payment plan.

What’s rather annoying is the fact that the bulk of debts owed to ZESA is owed by post-paid customers who tend to be big businesses and bigwigs who simply choose to use their political standing to not pay their fair share for electricity. Instead, ordinary struggling people are being threatened and cajoled in such an arbitrary manner.