EMA, ZERA react to generator tax claims amid public panic

HARARE – The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) have moved to allay public anxiety caused by claims that penalties were being imposed against citizens caught using generators without authority.

However, the two state agencies did not help matters when they both claimed to be licensing authorities for generators which fell within sizes stipulated by the law.

Social media has been awash with claims that EMA was imposing fines of ZW$100,000 on businesses and households running generators without emission licences.

In a statement early this week, EMA communications and publicity manager, Amkela Sidange said the claims were false.

Sidange said the claims originated from an aggrieved business operator who was fined ZW$100,000 for operating a commercial generator which was above the stipulated 5kVA licensing threshold without registering with the relevant authorities.

After penalties were imposed against him, Sidange said, the business operator posted on social media, a copy of the ticket issued against him in order to mislead the public.

Sidange said the agency’s efforts to regulate companies causing air pollution by operating commercial generators without emission licences were misunderstood by the public, which was made to believe that the penalty applied even to households using generators less than 5kVA as backup power sources.

“The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) would like to correct a notion that it licenses operation of any generator above 5kVA, which has caused unnecessary panic among members of the public especially those using generators at household level or for domestic purposes,” Sidange said.

“As a matter of fact, Section 64 of the Environmental Management Act (Cap 20:27) clearly stipulates that, no owner or operator of a trade or any establishment shall emit a substance or energy which causes or is likely to cause air pollution without an emission license, thus clearly indicating that this is an operation at commercial level or for industrial use.

“A generator consuming more than 5kg per hour of fuel being used for commercial purposes or industrial use must be licensed by the agency.

“On that note the Agency wants to implore members of the public to always look at the brighter side of this piece of legislative narrative which seeks to prevent air pollution and ensure members of the public enjoy access to a clean environment.”

Sidange urged those caught violating the statute to stop causing panic among members of the public through disseminating incorrect information.

She also urged the public to engage her organisation in order to access correct information on environmental law implications.

ZERA also issued a statement on Monday indicating that registration of commercial generators above 5kVA was mandatory but free of charge.

“ZERA, following indications that the registration of standby generators attracts a fee of ZWL$100 000, hereby informs the public that such registration is at no cost.

“In terms of the Electricity Act 2002 (Chapter 13:19) and Statutory Instrument 103 of 2008, all owners of standby generators or generating equipment with a capacity of 100kW and above, are required to be registered with ZERA.

“This is to ensure public safety in the operation of the grid and in particular, prevent the danger posed to Electricity Supply Industry employees from the possibility of back-feeding of power into the grid from these generators during outages and maintenance,” read the statement.

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