Newly-appointed Energy and Power Development Minister, Soda Zhemu, has described the vandalism of electricity infrastructure across the country as an act of sabotage at a time when Zimbabwe is battling to meet power demand.
Electricity transformers and cables have been either tempered with or stolen in the process disrupting the transmission of power to customers and costing the power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) huge sums of money in repairs.
Responding to concerns by Hatfield legislator, Tapiwa Mashakada, on the stalling of rural electrification projects as a result of vandalism and theft of transformers, Zhemu said the acts amounted to sabotage.
“It is knowledgeable that there is vandalism of electrical infrastructure,” said Zhemu.
He added: “What it entails is that we still have to have some mechanisms despite the use of renewable sources of energy. There is still a need for the infrastructure to be protected. Let me indicate here Mr. Speaker Sir, there is total sabotage that is happening, especially with electrical infrastructure. The kind of vandalism that is happening is not just natural but I suspect it is happening for the purposes of reducing the economic activity in the country and I think it is deliberate.”
Zhemu said to minimise the challenge, ZESA Holdings was working on a system to procure some technology that would be used to send some alerts whenever there is vandalism that would be happening to the electricity infrastructure.
He said the issue of vandalism could not be adequately addressed by the use of renewable energy sources.
“The question of vandalism of the electrical infrastructure – I do not think that can be addressed by use of renewable sources of energy because like l indicated, even if we pursue renewable sources of energy – for instance installation of solar systems, there is still need for evacuation of power from the plant onto the grid until it reaches to the consumers. I think that one is straightforward,” he said.
“Mr Speaker Sir, it is true that the current power that is being generated is in deficit of what the country requires. To that end, there is a promotion for use of solar energy in the country. Yes, not much has come through on the grid recently. I think we have not more than five investors that have done investments in solar energy on commercial bases. Currently, what is being put onto the grid is a total of 6mgw from solar investors.”