What makes one person more important than the next? This is the question that begs to be asked in the ongoing ZESA (Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority) saga over bill defaulters.
For some reason unbeknownst to the so-called ordinary man on the street in Zimbabwe there are certain individuals who feel that because of their high standing in society they should not be subjected to the lowly practice of paying for electricity supplied to their numerous homes and farms. These individuals are known to have bills running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Mugabe’s electricity bill alone is said to be over $US350 000 due to the fact that he not only lives in a huge mansion on the outskirts of Harare but also owns several farms. Other senior ZANU PF officials are said to owe a further $US10 million and that is just an estimate. These same individuals are also well known for milking the taxpayer of millions of dollars to fund external medical expenses, foreign travel with large entourages on hefty per diems, foreign university education for their children and ostentatious lifestyles within Zimbabwe. It has recently been reported in the press that these same people are being treated as “sensitive customers” and therefore continue to enjoy the benefits of power while the rest of the nation suffers crippling power cuts.
Meanwhile the ordinary man, earning an ordinary wage is being punished by having his electricity cut off for a bill that only runs into the hundreds of dollars and sometimes even less. For these same people, having their electricity cut off will not make much difference to their lives as already many of them have 14 hour power cuts on a daily basis. If they are lucky enough to have enough spare money to buy a generator or inverter their lives are made somewhat easier, but for those who can’t, meals are cooked on open fires or paraffin stoves and once the sun has gone down they sit around the fire or go to bed.
Recently a brave individual in the form of the Bikita West MP Heya Shoko (MDC-T) caused uproar in the House of Assembly by naming and shaming several MPs and governors and ministers suggesting that they should be barred from Parliament until their bills are settled. He said “It is high time we named and shamed these people because this country is not moving forward and we want to build (power) generation plants, yet we have MPs who are not paying bills and they attend Parliament dressed in expensive suits.”
Why should the ordinary man continue to suffer crippling power cuts and disconnections for unpaid bills while these individuals refuse to pay their bills? Why should any person be more equal than the next? As a nation we should come out in solidarity and stand up against these injustices. We should insist that ZESA continue to put pressure on these individuals owing vast amounts and ease up on smaller defaulters.