POWER utility Zesa Holdings has reversed a decision to force thousands of its customers owing $1 000 and above to pay $71 upfront before they can be able to purchase prepaid electricity tokens.
In the past few weeks, thousands of people have failed to buy prepaid electricity tokens, unless they paid $71 amount, but Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira told NewsDay yesterday that the new policy that affected almost 80 000 individuals and small businesses had since been withdrawn.
“Changes which had been implemented to the debt amortisation policy for customers owing more than $1 000 were reversed with immediate effect for the moment, to be relooked at again in future at a more opportune time,” he said.
“Affected customers categories included over 57 000 domestic customers on prepaid meters and almost 20 000 small business customers on the 3E platform.”
Zesa is owed millions in unpaid bills, mostly accruing from the hyperinflationary era.
In a bid to recoup its money, Zesa introduced a 30% deduction on every electricity purchase for accounts in arrears.
However, unhappy at the rate at which clients were clearing their debts, Zesa deactivated several accounts unless account holders paid at least $71 each time they purchased prepaid tokens.
“I realised my account had been de-activated and on inquiry I was told that I needed to pay $71 first. I was told that, henceforth, I was supposed to deposit this amount or more in order to be able to top-up my electricity,” an irate customer in Glen Norah said.
Gwasira said the 30% redemption policy had a negative impact on the utility’s operations.
“At a 30% redemption rate, there are customers who will only be able to clear their debt in between 30 and 50 years,” he said.
“Zesa requires the money to purchase electricity imports, spare parts, transformers, cables, coal and also to finance the expansion of Kariba and Hwange power stations.”
Gwasira said those who had been affected by the new policy should approach the utility in order to have their accounts re-activated and be able to transact as before.