RAMPANT theft and vandalism of electricity infrastructure is expected to drop after Cabinet approved the Electricity Amendment Bill, which has deterrent measures for would-be offenders.
An option of a fine has been removed while stiffer and mandatory sentences would now be imposed on anyone caught in the act.
Theft and vandalism of Zesa infrastructure especially electricity power cable theft are on the increase, leaving most parts of the country without power and continues to cost the economy millions of dollars in lost production hours every year.
In 2021, Zesa recorded 1 237 cases of theft and vandalism resulting in huge losses of revenue, which could have been used for development.
However, in a bid to curb theft, Cabinet has passed the Electricity Amendment Bill, which has deterrent measures.
“The Bill introduces stiffer penalties for the abstraction or diversion of electricity or the use of such electricity knowing that it was illegally abstracted or diverted.
“The Bill will also removes the option of a fine where one is convicted of the crime,” Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said in her post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday.
The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company, periodically warns the public against tampering with prepaid electricity meters and illegal power connections.
“Furthermore, the Bill introduces stiffer penalties for the transportation of material used in connection with the generation, transmission, distribution or supply of electricity without the option of a fine,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Recently, residents in Bulawayo’s eastern suburbs resorted to hiring security guards to patrol at night in a bid to stop electricity cable thefts.
In suburbs such as Kingsdale, Famona, Hillcrest and Hillside, residents have been living in the dark following theft of cables.