Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company (ZETDC), has threatened to switch off defunct steel giant, Zisco over a ZW$6,2 million debt accrued over a period of three months.
In a letter to Zisco that was signed by ZETDC southern region general manager, Engineer King Fazo Dube, the power utility turned down a payment plan designed by the steel company together with Redcliff Municipality and ZimChem and insists on switching off supplies unless the debt is paid.
The move could spell doom not only for Zisco but also Redcliff residents who rely on the company for pumping water. Zisco receives water from Kwekwe, which is then distributed to other companies and residents.
Companies such as Steelmakers, Zimchem and ZimCoke will be without water once Zisco is switched off because the water is distributed using a Zisco pump.
“We cannot accept your payment plan request to pay $290 000, which does not even cover your average monthly bill of $1,3 million. As we highlighted in the meeting, we had with you, we are left with no other option but to disconnect supplies if we do not receive full payment of your account,” wrote Eng Dube.
In the same letter, ZETDC urged Zisco to engage Redcliff Municipality and ZimChem to find a way forward. Acting Zisco Board chair, Dr Gift Mugano, said he did not have finer details of the matter.
“What I can say for now is that as far as I am concerned, we were paying our bills. You should also bear in mind that we are not operating and at times we might fail to fulfil our obligations,” he said.
“But I am also aware that negotiations are ongoing between us, Redcliff and ZimChem so that we have separate meters and can be billed separately. We are seized with the matter and I think very soon it will be resolved,” said Dr Mugano.
Redcliff Town Clerk, Mr Gilson Chakauya said the move would render the entire Redcliff town dry. He requested residents to contribute towards the paying of the bill.
“I think the timing by ZETDC is wrong. The move will mean that the whole of Redcliff will be without water as we rely on the Ziscosteel water pump for distribution of water. We are in the midst of Covid-19 and a such we cannot afford to spend even a day without water. I think they need to be sensitive and accept our payment plan,” said Mr Chakauya.
He said the local authority had also received the same communication from ZETDC.
“We received communication from ZETDC that electricity at the booster pump station at Zisco will be disconnected. The move will result in taps drying up and this means disaster for the town,” he said.
Mr Chakauya said council was collecting an average of ZW$165 000 a month for water from residents against a monthly bill of ZW$2,9 million from Kwekwe Municipality for bulk water.
He said council now owes Kwekwe Municipality ZW$13,5 million.
“We need at least ZW$4,2 million a month to pay for water and electricity,” said Mr Chakauya.