WOZA continues its campaign to improve electricity supply – join the campaign


DEMANDING POWER TO THE PEOPLE FROM THE ZIMBABWE ELECTRICITY SUPPLY AUTHORITY (ZESA)

Join WOZA’s campaign. Fill out the following timesheet and deliver it to your local ZESA office: ZESA Power Cut Timesheet

Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members began to deliver protest notes directly to suburban and city ZESA head offices in April 2007. Our members were complaining about poor service and inefficient billing systems. They complained that they could not afford the high bills and on top of that buy candles, matches, paraffin and firewood. Three years later, our issues remain ignored members organised for protests in April 2010. The peaceful protests were mobilised after members decided they needed to put direct pressure on ZESA to provide a more efficient service and fair and affordable billing system.

Members also attended public meetings of the Competition and Tariff Commission in Harare and Bulawayo. They directly asked questions and made submissions, including a request for prepaid meters so that people only have to pay for the electricity that they use. Members also questioned why their electricity bills are so high when they don’t have a regular electricity supply and why Zimbabwe was supplying electricity to other countries when there is not adequate supply for this country. They want properly publicised load shedding timetables. In many areas members go for days, sometimes weeks without electricity. They also complained about ‘estimated bills’. They want ‘actual’ bills. Those present were not all happy with the responses given by the ZETDC chairman, Mr. Muchai.  In Bulawayo, two members were briefly detained by plain-clothed police officers. They were searched and had their ‘yellow cards’ confiscated.

On 12th April 2010, Bulawayo members marched to ZESA offices in Lobengula Street to deliver yellow cards to ZESA for poor service and high tariffs. When members arrived at the Lobengula Street offices officials quickly closed the gates and locked the doors, refusing to come out to receive the ‘yellow card’, which had to be posted under the door. Again on 15 April, Harare members of WOZA marched to ZESA’s Megawatt House. Once again ZESA officials refused to come out and address the peaceful group so ‘yellow cards’ had to be posted under the door. Riot police armed with tear gas and shotguns arrived and ZESA security guards insisted that riot police arrest WOZA’s National Coordinator Jenni Williams. 65 members responded in solidarity. Police however decided to detain Williams, Mahlangu, Manjengwa and Madukani.  They spent 6 days in custody and were released without charges because the Attorney General refused to prosecute them.

While the four activists languished in filthy conditions, President Robert Mugabe and other politicians were grandstanding at the Independence Day celebration. Mugabe spoke of the need for Zimbabweans to “foster an environment of tolerance and treating each other with dignity and respect irrespective of age, gender, race, ethnicity, tribe, political or religious affiliation.” Empty words without meaning.

After the release of the four leaders, a message was received from ZESA Chief Executive Officer that he wanted to apologise but WOZA is still waiting for an appointment. It appears that the electricity provider would rather have its paying customers arrested than dialogue with them about their concerns. This arrogant behavior is further confirmation that ZESA is not interested in providing a service to Zimbabweans but is only interested in taking advantage of their need for a basic requirement. Since the protests, WOZA leaders conducted a further consultation and over 4,000 members raised the following issues:

This is a member’s typical budget.

For 7,5 Amp electricity

For firewood for cooking and sometimes paraffin. (2 bundles of firewood for one meal is $2)

I need to buy candles for children to study

I have to pay US $30 and face 25% interest if I default 

I have to spend about US $80

I spend US$10

I would prefer to pay you the US $30 but I don’t have any control over your supply. By the way don’t forget that I have no job and survive by being a vendor.

WE THEREFORE GIVE ZESA A SECOND YELLOW CARD AND MAKE THE FOLLOWING DEMANDS:

  1. Members face power cuts of up to 18 hours! We urgently need proper timetables of load shedding that you will obey.
  2. It is well done to ZESA for making electricity saving bulbs available at a cheaper price but we still cannot afford these. Please can ZESA make firewood, candles and matches available at affordable prices. We are worried about the damage to the environment caused by the cutting down of trees but we still need to cook food.
  3. This is our final plea for ZESA to do something for the fixed meter consumers who are being cheated. They are willing to pay for the electricity used but you must give them discounts when there is no electricity.
  4. Urgently put in place a proper and transparent billing system. Metered consumers will only pay ACTUAL bills. Stop sending us inflated estimates.
  5. ZESA should immediately create a smoother process of customer’s claims for compensation. Many people have lost household goods and homes because of power surges.
  6. There needs to be a better balance between your staff and equipment payments. Review your staff complement and salary scale. We, the consumers cannot afford to pay the bill for highly paid staff members who do not perform as expected and loot ZESA resources and infrastructure. Review recruitment policy urgently and recruit professionals, not relatives or friends. We are also sure that less luxury cars will mean more transformers for us.
  7. ZESA be aware that you have a role to play in community safety and power cuts mean increased muggings and rape.
  8. Some hospitals are facing 8-hour power cuts. We demand ZESA to ring mark hospitals as they are essential services and should not face power cuts. Please can there be dignity in death – mortuaries cannot be cut off.
  9. Members expressed disappointment that the parliament Competition and Tariff Commission public hearings merely gave ZESA an opportunity to defend themselves instead of genuinely examining if it was time to remove the monopoly or alternatively to discuss the option of returning electricity to city council. We DEMAND that parliament convene further hearings on this issue.
  10. Members using fixed meters advised ZESA that the current service only deserved a US$5 payment and not payment calculated for a full service. Along with the warning, members are prepared to pay US$15 if they get 24 hours 7 days a week service. There has been no improvement, so we are going to record the exact hours we receive electricity for the last two weeks of May. After calculating, if there is no improvement, WOZA will give ZESA a red card and “suspension’. A suspension means a ZERO service ZERO bill boycott of payments from 1st June 2010.

Zimbabweans, we DESERVE a better service. Let us demand power to the people. Let us hold hands to fight the darkness brought to us by ZESA. Fill out the power cut timesheet above and deliver it to your local ZESA office to prove how you are being affected by the power cuts.


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