From the beginning of August, ZESA introduced the stepped tariffs structure. This effectively meant that there is no longer a flat rate charged for electricity. Let me elaborate a bit what that means because a lot of people out there are not getting this. I have heard of many accounts where landlords and tenants got into altercations because of misunderstandings. Here is the thing, when you are purchasing any service using a flat rate it simply means the more money you spend, the more of the service you get – just simple math. However, the stepped tariffs actually translate to getting less as you spend more and more. Let me clarify what I mean and discuss other important issues in this article.

Stepped Tariffs – What They Mean

The stepped tariffs are categorized into 3 ranges of units. The first 50 units are charged at their own rate then the next 51 to 200 units are charged at a different rate. The next 201 units and above are charged at their own rate. The cheapest are the first 50 units (as of last month they were being charged at ZWL$0.41 per unit). The next 51 to 200 units are the next in line which as at last month were being charged at ZWL$0.91 per unit. The next 201 units and above are the most expensive (as of last month they were being charged at ZWL$3.87 per unit). So, based on last month’s rates it means in order to get your first 200 units you had to pay ZWL$157. If you ever you were going to purchase a further 200 units beyond that you would have needed ZWL$774 for those additional 200 units. Thus, the simple logic here is that you must try by all means to stick to just your first 200 units in your monthly usage. Anything beyond that becomes extremely expensive. I am sure that bit about what stepped tariffs mean is crystal clear now.

The Wynne Street ZESA Fiasco

You probably might have heard of how people thronged ZESA Holdings found at Wynne Street in Harare. People swarmed that place to purchase electricity on the pretext that purchasing cheap electricity was only possible on the first and second day of the month. These are pretexts that emerged from false claims that were all over social media. I am not going to detail much about that but I will again clarify some things so that people understand how this all works.

First of all, as I earlier discussed, it is apparent that the first 200 units are the cheapest – that is true. However, it is not true to think that they can only be cheap on the first or second of the month. It is also not true that you have to specifically purchase them from ZESA outlets only for them to be cheap. Your first 200 units can be purchased at any time within a particular month. For instance, if you purchase your first 200 units on the 15th of the month and they will still be the cheapest. Plus you do not have to purchase them from some exclusive outlet to get them cheap, no! Wherever you buy them from and by whichever means the prescribed rates will still apply.

I would also like to dispel the myth that they are cheap during some particular times of the day. That is not true and it actually does not make any sense at all. I am clarifying these things based on what ZESA has laid out and from my own practical testing of the system. Do not be misled by social media messages that are usually authored either by alarmists or people who would have misinterpreted things.

The Recent Silent Tariff Hike

On Saturday afternoon it emerged that ZESA tariffs were marginally hiked – silently though. There was no official communication to that effect and the report stemmed from a look at ZESA’s Self-service portal. It emerged that the first 50 units that used to go for ZWL$20.50 now go for ZWL$21.73. The next 51 to 200 units that used to cost ZWL$136.50 now cost ZWL$144.69. The next 201 units and above that used to cost ZWL$3.87 per unit now cost ZWL$4.10 per unit. The first 200 units that used to cost ZWL$157 will now go for roughly ZWL$167 – which is a 6% increase. So as you can see the increase in the tariffs is quite marginal.

If you have any questions or areas that are unclear to you kindly indicate in the comments below. Let me also add that ZESA indicated starting October that they will be reviewing their tariffs every month. They will be doing so by factoring in changes in inflation rates. This means the tariffs could either go up or down depending on changes in inflation rates.