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Zimbabweans Object to Special Treatment for Politicians on Utility Payments


The Combined Harare Residents Association Thursday slammed the Harare City Council for moving to attach property of residents who owe money for water or other services

Zimbabweans are up in arms over the selective application of the law between ordinary people and senior state officials and lawmakers when it comes to paying utility bills.

Residents owing less than US$100 see their electric power cut off by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority while officials run up huge bills without consequences.

The Combined Harare Residents Association Thursday slammed the Harare City Council for moving to attach property of residents who owe money for water or other services.

This week 30 families in Mabvuku fell victim to this exercise – although residents have complained that they have had no running water for the last five years.

The association said residents owe the city an average of $60 million and yet the government, which owes $80 million, has not had its property attached.

Combined Harare Residents Association Director Mfundo Mlilo said measures must be put in place to ensure officials do not abuse their political influence.

“To add salt to injury we are further shocked to see that our legislators and the ministers are running high bills which ZESA has not done anything to recover ... yet they are the people who are directing these parastatals to take property from residents," Mlilo said.

Lawmaker Edward Chindori Chininga, chairman of the parliamentary committee on mines and energy, said his committee that raised the issue of officials abusing their power and pressured Energy Minister Elton Mangoma to expose what is going on.

“We have done our own investigations and we have names of those in [the] Cabinet and those in senior positions in the civil service who have not paid their bill but have not been disconnected" though running bills ranging from a few thousand to $150,000.

"Those revelations started from us," Chindori Chininga said.

“As a committee we did not know that senior politicians were not paying their bills and were using their influence not to be disconnected and that some were running in hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you take 20 members of parliament who have [bills of] $100, 000 each, it means US$2 million has not been paid to ZESA," he said.

"It is irresponsible for policymakers to do that.”

In a similar vein, this week Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga released names of nine legislators, three of them Cabinet ministers, who have failed to account for $50,000 paid to them out of a constituency development fund.

Chindori Chininga is one of those lawmakers accused of not submitting his account. He said he had some ‘technical problems” but has now submitted his accounts.

“There must be no excuse," the parliamentarian said. "We must prosecute those who have abused the $50,000 or did not use it correctly."

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