By Alois Vinga
ENERGY Minister, Fortune Chasi has threatened to name and shame business tycoons owing the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) a total of $300 million in unpaid electricity bills.
Chasi told captains of industry Monday that his plea for people indebted to Zesa have fallen on deaf ears and this could force him into drastic action.
“It is not a time for politicking. When you have a debt, you must just pay. Am I right business people and this is what I would like to make a very impassioned appeal to industry and commerce. You owe significant amounts of money to Zesa initially denominated in US$ and the current shortages are partly because we have not been responsible to pay our debts,” said Chasi.
Zimbabweans have had to endure up to 15 hours of load-shedding due to dilapidated infrastructure and low water levels at Kariba.
Chasi told the business executives that they do not have a right to criticise Zesa if they do not pay up what they owe.
“It is shocking because a lot of you here owe Zesa for years…When you do not pay your debts you lose the moral high ground to criticise Zesa, to complain about load shedding like what everybody is doing right now.
“I am so sorry to say this but we will have to begin to talk directly and mention names. How embarrassing will that be? How will those who give you loans think of you within and outside Zimbabwe?” Chasi asked.
The Energy Minister said Zimbabwe’s power troubles have moved from being a challenge to a “big problem”.
“It is time we say things as they are because this is no longer a challenge but a big problem. It is no time for politics. Just pay or make a payment plan. We need to make sure that this entity which is so important to us is functional.
“Right now Kariba is at 24% and what worries me is that business is not coming out in the open to encourage each other to pay,” Chasi added.
ZESA has been struggling to generate enough electricity for the country owing to reduced water levels in the Kariba Dam due to the severe drought which hit the country last year.
The parastatal is also too broke to import electricity and early this year, it dragged Local Government Minister July Moyo to court over an unpaid $414,775 in electricity bills.