THE ongoing amendment of the Electricity Act is expected to come up with stiffer penalties for perpetrators of power supply equipment vandalism, a Cabinet Minister has said.
In an interview on the sidelines of the Ministry of Energy and Power Development third quarter strategic planning and performance review workshop in Nyanga recently, Minister Soda Zhemu said vandalism of electricity equipment is negating Government’s efforts to maintain reliable power supply.
“The amendments to the Electricity Act will result in stiffer penalties being meted out to vandals. We are referring to those destroying equipment which is supposed to be used in the transmission and distribution of electricity.
“Everyone is noticing what is happening. We have people tampering with the equipment, so we are proposing stiffer penalties through the amendments. This will act as a deterrent to would-be offenders. People must not tamper with electricity transmission equipment for whatever reason,” he said.
In a recent interview, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) told The Manica Post that 535 cases of power supply infrastructure vandalism or theft, with a total cost of US$1.5 million, were recorded during the first quarter of this year nationwide.
Only US$113 063 was recovered, constituting 14 percent recovery.
A total of 89 arrests were made and of those, only 19 were convicted.
In areas under Harare Region, during the first quarter of 2022, 54 cases of Zesa infrastructure theft or vandalism were reported.
These cost the power utility a whooping US$228 698. Only 14 arrests were made and of those, four were convicted.
The value of property recovered was a paltry US$1 920.
In the Northern Region, 169 cases of theft and vandalism of Zesa infrastructure were reported and 42 arrests were made, out of which only eight convictions were made.
The total value of infrastructure stolen or destroyed amounted to US$544 568 and only US$46 656 as recovered.
In the Eastern Region which covers Manicaland, 77 cases of vandalism or theft of electricity implements were reported, with a total value of US$172 188.
Only 13 arrests were made, with two convictions being made, while property worth US$5 990 was recovered.
For Southern Region, a total of 42 cases were reported and six arrests were made. Only one person was convicted.
US$89 959 worth of electricity transmission infrastructure was vandalised or stolen, while property worth US$3 528 was recovered.
In the Western Region, 152 cases were reported, resulting in the arrest of 12 suspects. Of those, only four were convicted.
A total $402 762 worth of electricity distribution infrastructure was either vandalised or stolen and US$34 648 worth of material was recovered.
Inside jobs have often been suspected in incidences of Zesa infrastructure theft or vandalism.
The power utility told The Manica Post that in 2021, two cases involving Zesa staff members were dealt with before the courts.