So it has been a while since I last talked about ZESA. It is funny that 2 days ago I was musing on the fact that ZESA tariffs have not been hiked for some time now. Turns out I was zoning in on a hike as is now the case – tariffs have been increased by 50 per cent. It comes as no surprise especially given how prices have generally been vying for the sky. As some of you might recall the previous changes brought in a new consumption band. With the latest tariff hike, consumption bands will remain the same but the prices have been adjusted upwards.

The New Tariff Structure

These new tariffs already took effect on the 23rd of September.

Just so know there are two prepaid meter systems namely, the standard one and the stepped one. For the sake of most of you, I always dwell on the stepped one. The standard charge per unit is the same despite the consumption band. In light of these new tariffs, the standard charge per unit is now ZWL$3.23. Let me now get into the new stepped tariffs structure:

Consumption Band: 1 to 50 kWh (or units)

Under this one, the cost of 1 unit is now ZWL$0.74 (up from ZWL$0.49).

Consumption Band: 51 to 200 kWh (or units)

1 unit now costs ZWL$1.62 (up from ZWL$1.08).

Consumption Band: 201 to 300 kWh (or units)

A single unit now costs ZWL$4.41 (up from ZWL$2.94).

Consumption Band: 301 kWh and above

From the moment you exceed 300 units, 1 unit costs ZWL$6.92 (up from ZWL$4.61).

Let us do some math: This means that the first 200 units now cost ZWL$280 (up from ZWL$186.50). The first 300 units are now at ZWL$721 (up from ZWL$480.50). As always, remember that either the first 200 or 300 units are the cheapest. The moment you exceed 300 units the cost becomes quite hefty. Look at this just to put things into perspective – ZWL$721 gets you your first 300 units (which is more than enough for a typical one-family household). That same amount will only get you about 104 units once you exceed 300 units.

Let Us Analyse…

Tariffs Quite Reasonable

For starters, I think a 50 per cent increase is somewhat reasonable. Given the exchange rates, the amount one has to pay for either 200 or 300 units is ridiculously low. One gets to wonder how the government manages to get electricity given such low tariffs. Anyways, I will not be ignorant of the fact that in ZWL$ terms some people might not afford to get adequate power.

Not Many Can Stay Within The Cheap Consumption Bands

I have always underscored the need to stay within the cheap consumption bands. As in, making sure you consume only 200 or 300 units per month – 200 units guarantees a much lower cost. Earlier I mentioned that 200 units or 300 units tend to suffice for a one-family scenario. What I have observed is that it is a tall order for multiple families staying at one place to stick to 200 units the whole month.

I have had the opportunity to have a taste of both worlds. When it is just one family it is very possible to consume not more than 200 units per month. This is achievable whilst doing all power-dependent tasks except for daily boiling of bathing water. This is typical for a family with say, 5 members – under responsible use of power but it will almost be normal.

As for scenarios where several tenants are renting at one place – sticking to 200 units per month is a pipe dream. It is virtually impossible and I have been to a place where I witnessed this first hand. It seems no matter how much you try to consumer power responsibly, exceeding 300 units will just be inevitable. Consensus on responsible power usage is just problematic when it comes to renting scenarios.

Hopefully, you now understand how the stepped tariffs system works. I have heard that some landlords and tenants still have altercations that stem from a poor understanding of the system. I have also realized some are punishing themselves in the name of saving power.