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Time for serious legal action against ZESA

29 Aug 2019 at 10:47hrs | Views
Tendai Ruben Mbofana
As the constant, but greatly debilitating, power outages continue to torment the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans - who are already at the mercy of an unprecedented economic turmoil in 10 years - with seeming unrelenting tenacity, the time is long overdue for the people to take legal action against the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) for compensation over reneged contractual obligations, damaged goods and food stuff, and lost business due to lack of electricity.

The people of Zimbabwe have, for time immemorial, had the unflattering label of being "weak, passive and docile" - much to their unfortunate frequent undoing - but, the time has come for them to finally reject being taken advantage of, and being regarded as fools.

ZESA is contractually bound to supply uninterrupted electricity to its paying customers, and there should never be permitted any excuses as to their failure in its fulfillment.

If, for instance, someone paid me for a service to be delivered, it is my contractual obligation to fulfill that without fail. It would never - and should never - be acceptable for me to then constantly give excuses for my failure to do so. If I found it acceptable to receive the payment, this obliges me to ensure that I have put in place all necessary measures to ensure that the service will be delivered without fail and flawlessly.

The same aptly applies to ZESA.

Whenever, the electricity authority accepts payment to provide its consumers with electricity, there should never be any excuses for its failure in this regard.

As such, flimsy stories of low water levels in Kariba Dam (which supplies hydroelectric power), dilapidated machinery at its thermal power stations, and a huge debt bill owed to foreign power utilities, should never be accepted as viable.

As the power utility that would have received the consumers' payments, ZESA should have made sure that it had preemptively put in place adequate measures to ensure that they would be able to deliver their contractual obligations. No excuses.

For starters, who did not know - as early as mid-last year - that the 2018/19 rainy season would be below average? What did ZESA put in place as contingency measures? In fact, any organization operating according to global best practices would have had such contingency plans in place years before any drought - especially considering that ZESA heavily relies on hydroelectric power generation.

Secondly, why did the electricity utility not upgrade its outdated and possibly unsalvageable thermal power generation machinery years ago?

Thirdly, why were they not paying back their debt owed to foreign power utilities, such as Eskom of South Africa, and Cahora Bassa of Mozambique?

The issue of lack of finances does not hold any water at all. One thing is well known and well acknowledged - ZESA is itself owed over a billion dollars by local consumers for over a decade - thus, why have they not been seriously following up on these for the past years?

Therefore, ZESA has no leg to stand on as far as it not having sufficient funds to ensure that it adequately meets contractual obligations to its paying consumers by ensuring uninterrupted power supplies.

They could have so easily taken legal action to recover most, if not all, of the outstanding debt owed to them - if they had the will. With the over a billion dollars in their pockets, ZESA would have been able to upgrade its dilapidated machinery, constructed completely new power stations, and paid off its own debt to Eskom and Cahora Bassa.

With the zealousness in which we witnessed ZESA disconnecting electricity supplies to households of those owing it paltry amounts, in the year preceding the introduction of pre-paid meters - even taking away circuit breakers - what stopped them from applying the same zeal against the 'big fish' to recoup the billions of dollars?

However, what we have witnessed over the past years, especially after the introduction of pre-paid meters, were reports of the high salaries earned by ZESA employees, the buying of numerous company vehicles, renovation of offices - yet, absolutely nothing in the arena of improving service delivery to paying consumers.

Additionally, the recently released Auditor General's report signals rampart corruption at the power utility, as vast amounts of money were misappropriated or unaccounted for.

ZESA can no longer get away with incompetence with impunity. They should stop acting as if they are doing us a grand favor by supplying us with electricity. No, not at all!

ZESA has a contractual obligation to supply its paying consumers with uninterrupted power supply without fail. The intermittent power outages we are currently enduring can never be excused, as these are purely to be blamed squarely on ZESA's incompetence and corruption.

As such, legal action should now be taken against the power utility to compensate for lost business, damaged goods and perishable food stuff, and the inconvenience caused.

This is the time for Zimbabweans to finally show some backbone, and refuse to be taken for granted any longer. ZESA owes us...and they owe us big time!

Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He can be contacted on zimjustice@gmail.com, or call/WhatsApp: +263733399640, or CALLS ONLY: +263715667700.


Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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