EXCLUSIVE: Corruption at the centre of ZESA Electricity Token inaccessibility challenges

Energy Minister Fortune Chasi
Energy Minister Fortune Chasi

HARARE – The general public has been facing challenges in buying electricity tokens from ZETDC,a subsidiary of ZESA, with many unable to access the service, TSTnews can reveal what could be the causes.

By Farai Maposa

The parastatal, ZETDC has cited that its electronic system is being overwhelmed owing to the misconception by ratepayers that electricity tokens are cheap during the first days of the month but this has been shot down by one Twitter user , Tirivahera who posted a long thread exposing how a tender bungling for the Prepaid Power Billng System(PPBS) could be the reason why some households are in the dark.

TSTnews witnessed winding queues at ZETDC banking halls in Harare which depict the magnitude of the challenges ratepayers are grappling to buy the electricity tokens.

According to Tirivahera , the system failure is not a result of technical issues but corruption and incompetence.

“The nation is complaining and many houses are in darkness. They can’t buy tokens. To many it’s a ‘technical system issue’ but this is a manifestation of corruption and incompetence.,”posted Tirivahera

The  whistle-blower Tirivahera   revealed that the tender for the (PPBS) was at one point given to a Greek firm and later withdrawn after eyebrows were raised on how it had acquired the tender.

“In 2011, Zesa awarded Revmax Zim(Itron) a tender to implement a Prepaid Power Billing System(PPBS) which they implemented. The system, however, enabled Zesa to sell tokens in the banking halls only and there was the need for an aggregator who could link third  parties to the PPBS

“In 2013 , ZESA awarded Revma Zim an aggregator tender (ZETDC/HO/04/ 2013) for which Revma was part of the adjudication team which means they technically evaluated other competitors and themselves.The tender was later cancelled by Minister Mavhaire(PBR 1695),” he revealed.

He  further said the  tender was ‘only cancelled after an outcry by one of the bidders who wrote a strong-worded letter to Mugabe, Mavhaire ,SPB,ZACC,ZRP and ZESA advising  that Bakaris (Revma director) was  Greek and  didn’t qualify in a sector reserved for indigenous people under the  Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.

Tirivahera says when Dzikamai Mavhaire was fired and replaced by Samuel Undenge the circus continued.

“In 2014 Mavhaire was fired and  Undenge became minister.He awarded Powertel(PTL)the aggregator project without going to tender.PTL contracted a local software Company(SC)to implement the system.Government  gave aggregator access to govt companies and banks

” Other companies could only connect via parastatals.Players like Econet were later given access after failure by parastatals to deliver reliable platforms,”narrated Tirivahera.

To date, he says there are some corrupt executives in the parastatal and government who are corruptly benefitting from the tender.

“ZETDC paid $US1.5m to PTL for the system & they are still paying a fixed amount per transaction .It used to be $0.15 during the USD era & this was shared between PTL & the local software company.The software company’s portion is further shared between  the company and  some corrupt officials at Zesa and  in govt,” says Tirivahera.

What is striking is that there are tech companies that have offered for free to develop remedies for the continued system failure but have been turned down because of the bigwigs who are milking the parastatal at the expense of ratepayers,concludes Tirivahera.

TSTnews can report that the expose by Tirivahera could be crucial  ahead of a scheduled meeting between Minister of Energy Chasi with some ZESA managers.