Zesa engineers up in arms against ministry

d mavhaire
Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire

Lincoln Towindo and Tinashe Farawo
Senior Zesa Holdings engineers have blamed their parent ministry for the loss of millions of United States dollars in electricity revenue, saying the latter opened the pre-paid metering system to abuse by influencing the awarding of installation contracts to several companies.In the unprecedented move stemming from revenue leakage concerns, the engineers said this “pick-and-drop” contract awarding approach has resulted in a wider pool of unscrupulous individuals identifying loopholes in the system.

As a result, numerous electricity consumers have over the past two years engaged some of the previously-contracted personnel to by-pass the meters and, subsequently, payment, at an agreed fee.

Earlier reports indicated Zesa Holdings was losing close to US$10 million per month due to this system circumvention while over 4 000 households in the capital were implicated in the scam.

The pattern shows these figures have shot up since. There are also growing fears the power utility will fail to recover an US$800 million debt owed by defaulting consumers. Zesa deducts 20 percent of all pre-paid electricity purchases by defaulters to recover the staggering debt.

The outstanding US$800 million, once repaid, is sufficient to construct a new power generation plant the size of Kariba Hydro-Power Station without authorities seeking additional funding.

However, the engineers contend undue influence from their parent ministry has thrown the otherwise efficient pre-paid metering system into disarray.

Energy and Power Development Minister Mr Dzikamai Mavhaire — contacted to respond to the case against his ministry — said: “I am not a technical person. Talk to the technical people. I am focusing on policy.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, one of the Harare-based engineers said many companies were intermittently contracted to install the meters.

He said the utility intended to contract one company to install the meters, but the ministry moved in to determine the installers and expand their number.

The companies are said to have been contracted for short periods in particular suburbs. Some of the firms, which merely deal in electricals and are not conversant with the system, would, in turn, recruit personnel and seek training before moving on to installations.

“Information we have reveals that the ministry influenced the people who would install the meters. It would have been ideal to limit the number of people involved, but the problem is so many companies were contracted,” said the engineer.

“Some of them were contracted for a month and after the expiry of their contracts, most of the personnel in these companies became jobless instantly.

“These people are the ones who have been conniving with residents and some of our technicians to by-pass the metering system. As a result, electricity is stolen.”

Another engineer also said authorities blundered in contracting, awarding several companies to install pre-paid metres.

“After the expiry of their contracts with these metres most of these people will now have experience on how to by-pass the metering system,” he said.

“How can an ordinary person by-pass the meter? It takes the necessary expertise and most of these people are the ones who were contracted to install pre-paid meters,” he said.

Zesa introduced pre-paid meters in August 2012, targeting 800 000 households.

To date, 400 000 meters have been installed in different parts of the country with 100 000 more to be fitted by year end. The entire project, expected to cost in the region of US$60 million, is tailored to curb payment defaults.

Under the system, customers purchase tokens whose electricity units correspond with the value of the purchase made.

One is able to manage consumption as they only use power paid for.


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  • Onini

    Homeboy vangu Mavhaire ihope chete. Naiye President wedu akaita chii to appoint husiku? Pamwe it’s patronage resulting to destroying nyika. Fokofo

    • Mhondoro

      Mavhaire inherited this issue, these tenders were done during the Mangoma stint at the ministry, so it’s not fair to point fingers at Mavhaire and why are these so called engineers only coming up with their views now? Vanga caring kuti all along?

      • Pikerere

        Mhondoro you are right Mangoma MDCTed the tenders as they normally do on MDCT so why point at Dzikamai, but still I have observed the installations myself, it does not require a university degree or any experience to by pass the meters it is simple if anyone needs me to show them I could have uploaded a picture so that all can see, and most probably do it for youselves so that all of us may benefit also

        • itso

          How can a country develop if everybody has corrupt instincts like these. Haa mbavha dzegadzega muZim shuwa unotoda kuti vanhu vabe magesti acho futi. Kungotiwo zvinoitwa nedzimwe nyika dzirikumberi kwedu nebudiriro amunyatsozviziva.

  • Mavhaire should retire, pliz old man go home rest

  • UnhuMambo

    Hopeless engineers seeking to hide behind cheap politicking. Had they been doing their jobs properly they would have created a specification for the actual meters and requirements for selection of installers that would have made it irrelevant whether there was one or a dozen contractors. The press is helping this circus by focusing on politics – debating the quality of Mavhaire as a Minister, and not asking incisive questions on what went wrong. Why did ZETDC not collect from day one, statistics on usage per pre-paid meter installed and run exception reports for investigation? Why for goodness sake, does ZETDC fail to connect to NetOne and sell all pre-paid electricity tokens over the mobile networks wide distribution network – instead of spreading efforts to thin on the ground operations like ZB Bank? These so called ZESA Holdings engineers are either phantom or legion, a curse upon them!

    • DBC

      You are right, the original spec was ok, but change to some poor prepaid meters without unti-temper modes.

  • UnhuMambo

    There is a lot of censoring going on at Herald OnLine. These moderators are against straight talking!

  • b c

    Zesa must install the meters high up on power poles, make regular inspections of each installed meter to monitor usage from a central location, and make periodic physical inspections of the installed meters to make sure they are not bypassed or tampered with at some point. Meanwhile, for the already installed meters they should check usage from date of installation to verify regular payment versus usage as well as ascertain whether any meter is or has been under-recording usage compared to typical usage for the type of user. The results must be followed up with prosecution. Bypassing is tantamount to theft and so appropriate action must follow. Would be offenders can only be stopped by making existing culprits examples. The solution does not end with installing the meters. Managing the entire system is part of the process.

  • dssffvvvbvvvcffdd

    Kkkkkkk kkkkk As a concerned citizen of Zimbabwe with no technical expertise just like my fellow Minister Mavhaire I would like to comment on this headline.The pre-paid metering system was a brilliant idea towards recovering debts owed by consumers and improving revenue collection of Zesa , at the same time it gave the consumers a comprehensive analysis of electricity usage.The consumer could easily monitor his /her usage which could give them a piece of mind. Generally the idea is not bad but the implementation is catastrophical and disastrous. It was rushed and Zesa did not go deep down into the consumer’s mind and into the contracted company’s mind!!! Zesa focal point was just revenue collection and debt recovery in other words a “we gat you” approach. Let me go straight to my point now, One of zesa smart meters the Itron type if juiced and the units run out to zero you have to call for Zesa personal for assistance, This means if its on
    Friday you will have to go for the rest of the weekend without electricity .Imagine you want to watch the El classico Barcelona vs Real Madrid or like today you want to watch English derby Liverpool vs Manchester City , and you are 100% sure that at the next door electricity is available? You look for a copper cable or any wire , you go to the meter box open it switch off ALL the switches from the mains , all lights , sockets and switch which comes from the Zesa pole.its not done yet REMEMBER the wire that comes from the Zesa pole is Always alive even if you switch the outside switches be careful! !!!! The top line just after the pre-paid meter is now dead , so start with that line and join that cooper cable to it and BY-PASS the meter to connect straight to the live wire from the Zesa pole .The moment you connect to that line switch on the mains, lights and sockets. Now you can juice your pre-paid meter and then normalise the situation. REMEMBER TAMPERING WITH ZESA METERS IS A SERIOUS CRIME AND OFFENCE we are talking of 10 years and above imprisonment. You still want to watch your favourite game but eeeeyiyyyy you are very afraid of the meter box wiring now open the smart meter remove the LAP X1 wire close the meter you are good to go!!!!! Easy haaa .if the rate of units consumption is some how suspicious to you and you want to slow down consumption enter the following algorithm ………………………………………. kkkkkkkkk kkkkk ok if you can’t see this number please don’t steam your meter because its very DANGERIOUS.

  • Mr.Sunningdale(Kong Town)

    Kkkkkkk ndiye minister wacho here uyu ahh kikikikikiki

  • Emperor Chin

    What do you expect from a Headmaster cum Minister???