- Dear Family and Friends,
- The one non-political word most likely to cause animated,
angry outbursts in Zimbabwe is 'Zesa.' Officially the acronym stands for
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, more appropriately it is known as
Zimbabwe Electricity Sometimes Available.
- We've now had three grim, gruelling weeks of power cuts
where the lights go out at 4 or 5 in the morning and stay off until 9 or
10 at night - every day of the week and weekend. Normal functioning has
become almost impossible. Food bought with precious US dollars is going
rotten in silent fridges; geysers are cold and there is no way to put a
single hot meal on the table as zesa is non existent at breakfast, lunch
and supper times.
- Only receiving a few hours of power in the middle of
the night we expected our bills would have reduced by three quarters but
this isn't happening. Business and residential areas alike, Zesa bills
continue to be more than most people earn in a month. Unexplained and incomprehensible
is how you go from having a credit balance one month to owing 700 or 800
US dollars the next.
- Small businesses already struggling to stay open
are getting bills ranging from 5,000 to 12,000 US dollars a month. It's
become commonplace to get home and find you've been disconnected or, in
my home town, to find that Zesa employees have actually physically removed
MCB's (Mains Control Boards) from your house.
- The worst comes when you emerge from a 16 hour power
cut, cold, tried and hungry. The lights flicker once, twice and then stay
off again - it's a fault on the line. Even though Zesa have a 24 hour fault
service, they say they no longer attend at night, or before 8am in the
morning, and so you wait.
- By the time they go looking for a fault (after you have
picked them up in your car and driven them round and round) and they have
effected the repair, you still don't get anything done as you are back
into the standard 16 hour power cut. If there is more than one fault on
the line then you can go on like this for days, staggering from power cuts
to faults with the briefest flicker of lights in between but not even enough
time to boil a kettle.
- In out of town areas, people are going without electricity
for multiple days, even weeks. One rural friend said they'd had no power
for over a week. The only commercial farmer still operating in the area
had recently been evicted by an army man and now there was no one with
a vehicle prepared to travel the 20 kilometers to town to collect Zesa
workers to fix the broken line.
- Sitting here writing this letter by hand I try and remember
the last time I saw Zesa doing any maintenance in my suburb. I decide it
must be about 5 years ago when they came door to door and cut overhanging
branches, cleared around poles and checked their lines. I fume at this
thought and also at the information that a junior Zesa worker in his early
twenties and without tertiary education is currently earning 800 US dollars
a month - nearly seven times more than a degreed teacher or nurse. Perhaps
that's why our bills are so high?
- Until next week, thanks for reading,
- love cathy
- Copyright cathy buckle 21 November 2009.
- www.cathybuckle.com For information on my new book: "INNOCENT
VICTIMS" or my previous books, "African Tears" and "Beyond
Tears," or to subscribe/unsubscribe to this newsletter, please write