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Zesa Holdings has started selling prepaid electricity tokens through three Government enterprises, though the State Procurement Board has not sanctioned the arrangement. Thirty-eight other companies had bid for the same job but Zesa settled on ZB Bank, NetOne and CBZ Bank. Zesa Holdings spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira on Monday said they would introduce electricity scratch cards this month.

The power utility has also introduced electronic vending (e-vending) so that consumers can buy electricity via their mobile phones.

E-vending is provided through Zesa subsidiary PowerTel and its technical partner, E-Solutions.

The SPB twice cancelled the tender to sell electricity tokens citing technical irregularities.

The deal has always been shrouded in controversy with Energy and Power Development ministry officials alleged to have vested personal interest in E-Solutions.

The Energy Ministry hand picked PowerTel, which created the distribution networks for sale of the tokens, after ordering the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company to cancel tender number ZETDCHO 042013 that sought companies with expertise in provision of prepaid electricity vending.

PowerTel and E-Solutions had also submitted bids for the cancelled tender.

The other companies that submitted bids to become aggregators are challenging the legality of the cancellation of the tender arguing that Chapter 22.14 of the Procurement Act does not give ZETDC authority to make such a decision.

Energy Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire and his deputy, Engineer Munacho Mutezo, have been accused by Zesa staff of having interests in E-solutions.

The two have consistently refused to discuss the deal in the media.

Zesa’s Mr Gwasira said the sale of electricity coupons through third parties would de-congest the power utility’s banking malls and make purchases convenient.

“Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company, a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings has introduced an electronic vending service (e-vending) that will enable customers to purchase prepaid electricity through cellular phones, third party over-the-counter vending as well as through ZB’s e-wallet and NetOne’s One Wallet,” he said.

Prior to this, the purchase of pre-paid electricity tokens was only done at Zesa banking halls and at two OK Supermarkets in Harare, as well as at a ZETDC desk in TM Supermarket in Mutare.

The tokens were sold during working hours.

“The e-vending product which is running under the theme Powerplus, will ensure more convenience through keeping queuing to a minimum as most customers would be in a position to purchase electricity through Short Message Services (SMS) and over the counter of transactions from vendors that have been engaged by ZETDC,” said Mr Gwasira.

He said more State enterprises would soon become aggregators.

Mr Gwasira defended the selection of PowerTel saying it had the necessary technical capacity.

Reasons for the cancellation of the initial tender were not clear with Minister Mavhaire on one hand claiming there had been deep-seated corruption while the SPB and ZETDC cited technical irregularities.

During the tender process, there were queries over companies that already had a relationship with Zesa putting in bids.

These include pre-paid meter supplier Finmark Industries, PowerTel and Revma.

Source : The Herald