In a world full of greedy capitalists, the decision by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) to lower the cost of electricity tariffs not only comes as a relief but a shock as well.
Consumers are no longer used to prices going down. They keep going up, even when there is no justification.
In April, we reported that Government and business had reached a deal to revert the prices of basic commodities to what shops were charging on March 25 and placed a moratorium on the cost of the goods, as rampant price hikes were based on speculative behaviour and unjustified.
The deal never saw the light of day. Instead, speculative and unjustified price hikes became the order of the day.
Business has even gone to the extent of taking advantage of the vulnerable.
Surveys conducted by Chronicle have revealed that basic commodities are more expensive in western suburbs compared to retail shops in the central business district (CBD) and eastern suburbs.
At the start of the national lockdown, most grocery shops in Bulawayo’s western suburbs were selling basic commodities at exorbitant prices taking advantage of the lockdown regulations that confine consumers to buy from shops within a 5km radius from their residential areas.
Even entertainment is now more expensive at a time when people can no longer go out.
At the start of the month, MultiChoice Zimbabwe increased charges for its DStv packages. The DStv Lite package increased from US$7 to US$8 while the Access package increased from US$11 to US$13. Family package increased from US$17 to US$19, Compact package from US$25 to US$29, Compact Plus from US$40 to US$45, Premium from US$65 to US$75, HD PVR Premium from US$76 to US$88, XtraView access fee from US$11 to US$13 and Indian package from US$32 to US$37.
Pricing for smart data bouquets has since gone beyond the reach of many, meaning there are no alternatives when it comes to home entertainment. The exorbitant cost of data also comes at a time when home schooling is now a must.
The lowering of electricity tariffs by Zesa, therefore, comes as much needed relief.
Zesa lowered electricity tariffs by between 11 percent and 25 percent and introduced a new low-cost tariff band that reduces electricity charges for purchases of units in excess of 200 kilowatt hour (kwh), albeit not exceeding 300kwh per month in response to customer requests for low priced units.
Under the new tariff band, the first 50 units cost 52c per kwh, 51 to 200 units cost $1,14 per kwh while 201 to 300 units have been reduced to $3,12 per kwh from $4,88 per kwh. The new tariffs came into effect on Friday. The premium band will now be for the purchase of units in excess of 300 units which costs $4,88 per kwh.
In a statement, Zesa subsidiary, Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) said the reduction of tariffs for purchases from 210kwh to 300kwh was in response to the market demands as some customers were using in excess of 200 units monthly.
“Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) is pleased to announce the introduction of lower priced tariff band in order to better improve the customer experience, with the new tariff band being a positive response to customer request for lower priced units beneath the premium band effective June 12, 2020,” the utility said.
While the noble move by Zesa might never be replicated, it will serve as a reminder of the rare goodness of mankind.