By Anna Chibamu
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has launched a revenue assurance operation code named Usabe Magetsi/Lingebi Amagetsi aimed at curbing illegal power abstractions which have cost the parastatal revenue estimated at $1,4 billion over the past year.
Acting Energy minister Jenfan Muswere launched the initiative in Harare yesterday as he commissioned four motor bikes for use by ZESA’s subsidiary ZETDC to address the challenge.
“Today, we are commissioning new motor bikes that were bought specifically to address the challenges caused by theft of electricity across the country, which has led to massive revenue losses to ZESA and the country at large. We are launching a very important revenue assurance operation code named Operation Usabe Magetsi/Lingebi Amagetsi,” Muswere said.
He expressed disappointment over the way some individuals and companies were engaging in activities meant to derail development through theft and non-payment of electricity bills.
“Let me hasten to express government’s displeasure in the manner in which some members of society are engaging in unscrupulous activities like meter tampering, bridging, by-passing and illegal connections. I am reliably informed that non-technical losses contribute about 5% of our total revenue, and if we are to use the ZESA 2020 financial results as a point of reference, the loss translates to about ZWL$1.4 billion,” Muswere stated.
“I am sure you agree with me that this must be stopped and we must all declare war against all forms of theft. Given the foregoing, today we commission these new motor bikes which is a step in the right direction in addressing this undesirable situation where customers wantonly steal electricity sometimes in connivance with bad apples amongst ourselves,” he added.
Muswere gave a stern warning to would be offenders.
“The idea of free lunch is gone and I want to sternly warn those who are involved in such nefarious activities to stop and I say USABE MAGETSI/ LINGEBI AMAGETSI. We are prepared to fight this war and we are coming for you around the country. As testimony to our aggressive intentions,” he added.
“Only last week our teams invaded the Ushewokunze/Chigwende area in Harare South and discovered that 45 out of the 51 households that were inspected were irregularly connected and this is almost like a whole suburb. We have reported all these cases to the law enforcement agents. Surely this cannot continue to happen if we are to prosper as a nation.”
“If we are to be assured of a reliable service from the utility, bad apples will simply face dismissal and we will institute criminal measures against any offenders.”
Besides bike initiative, ZESA has commenced modernising its metering system and to date over 700 000 old post-paid electro-mechanical meters have been replaced with new solid state prepaid meters.
According to Muswere, ZESA is also in the process of implementing the smart metering initiative as one of the revenue assurance strategies and to date 1350 smart meters have been installed and a balance of 1100 on this pilot will be deployed before the end of the year.
The total project scope for the smart metering project involves 17 000 meters and the second phase of the project will start in the first quarter of 2022.
“ZESA is owed more than $15 billion and ironically we all expect to get quality service when we are incapacitating the utility and the nation at large. Of this amount the mining sector owes $3,85 billion, industrial sector owes $2,9 billion, commercial $6,2 billion, domestic $1,4 billion and farming owes $1billion,” Muswere said.