22 March 2012 – Zimbabwe’s Daily News has exposed the failure of numerous Zimbabwean government officials – including president Robert Mugabe – to pay large electricity bills while many in the country have had their power shut off.
Following its expose, the Daily News also reported that the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa Holdings) initially attempted to dismiss its story and protect Mugabe and other politically connected defaulters. Zesa denied it was protecting any particular customer and said it was simply protecting client information privilege.
The Daily News reported that among the top government officials owing Zesa Holdings large sums, at a time the country is struggling to pay off large debts to Mozambique’s Hydro Cahora Bassa, are Mugabe’s closest aides such as defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, minister of state in the president’s office Didymus Mutasa, state security minister Sydney Sekeramayi, information and publicity minister Webster Shamu, indigenisation minister Kasukuwere, deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara, members of parliament and provincial governors among others.
A month long investigation by the Daily News listed further offenders, with Robert Mugabe and his wife owing over US$300,000 to Zesa as of December 2011. Also exposed with more than US$300,000 in outstanding bills was Manicaland governor Chris Mushowe. Others exposed included Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao, whose bill ran to more than US$54,000. The defaulters also included legislators from across the political divide in the coalition government, as well as judges, provincial governors, deputy ministers and permanent secretaries. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai also recently admitted that he had paid about US$5,000 to the electricity provider, indicating that he too was defaulting on his payment. None of these officials have seen their electricity service cut off.
This is while people in Zimbabwe are seeing their electricity cut off for small amounts of arrears, and those who do have access to electricity in Harare report receiving power for only two or three hours a day.