The new pre-paid cash power system has created tension among families in some parts of Bulawayo’s oldest suburb Makokoba where the council owned houses are shared.
The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority installed one meter per house and this left households in a feud over the consumption of purchased power.
Under the new system a consumer is supposed to buy electricity units that they will use. Previously, the power utility supplied power, collected figures of electricity utilised and sent monthly bills.
Enerst Kwenda, a resident of Kusile Flats said some households have breadwinners whilst others are unemployed, a situation that has caused those who work to accuse their fellow unemployed housemates of consuming too much power whilst they cannot afford to pay for it.
“There is a difficulty here in sharing meters because for instance you find that someone has a huge family or they are not working so they will use a lot of electricity,” said Kwenda.
Councillor for Makokoba (ward 7) James Sithole confirmed that the new meters have brought conflicts in some households. He said most people are unemployed and struggling to get income and this worsens the situation.
Speaking to Radio Dialogue ZESA spokesperson Fullard Gwasira said the power utility is working on increasing the number of meters installed in all premises to suit the needs of the owners and tenants. He said currently they have no mechanism of settling such disputes and it is up to the feuding parties to come to terms with each other over the purchase and consumption of power.
The ministry of energy and power development initiated the pre-paid system of power as the utility was on a collision course with consumers who have not been settling their bills. Consumers have also been accusing ZESA of a flawed billing system which inflates bills.