ZESA must investigate the failure by its employees to collect copper cables left hanging from pylons by thieves in Newton West suburb in Bulawayo until the criminals came back two weeks later to finish the off.
This was revealed in a story we carried yesterday on Newton West which was plunged into darkness on Monday morning after thieves once again stole copper cables as the spate of vandalism of critical public infrastructure continues unabated throughout the country.
The slow reaction by Zesa employees in such cases affects the power utility in many ways.
A quick response would have saved Zesa from further losses had they collected the copper cables left hanging by the thieves.
The inaction has led to conclusions by residents that some Zesa employees could be working with copper cable thieves, a dent on the power utility’s reputation that could have been avoided had they responded on time.
President Mnangagwa recently described as “treasonous” the acts of vandalism of critical public infrastructure and directed stakeholders in the justice system and communities across the country to collaborate more closely to bring acts of sabotage to an end.
The President’s remarks come on the back of a national outcry over vandalism and theft of key infrastructure mainly targeting energy, telecommunications, rail, and water sectors, which is costing the country millions of United States dollars every year.
Reports of vandalism and theft of electricity infrastructure are rampant and these have a crippling effect on water and power supplies to consumers including critical institutions like hospitals, rail transportation, and communication systems.
Recently, thieves stole about 1 500 metres of copper cables in the same suburb.
Residents said more than 80 houses were left without power along Msasa Lane, Mangwe Lane, Balfour Road, Mopane Road, Mahogany Road and Linden Lane in the suburb. Some sections of the suburb have already gone for about a month without electricity.
Newton West residents complained that the copper cable thieves came back to finish the copper cables they had left hanging on the pylons when they struck two weeks earlier.
Newton West Residents Association chairperson, Mr William Zulu said despite notifying Zesa about the cables that had been left hanging by the thieves, no effort was made by the power utility to come and collect them.
“What surprises us as residents is that these cables were left hanging for about two weeks and thieves came back last night and pulled it down. We now suspect that these people could be colluding with some Zesa employees.
“We are now forced to contribute US$60 per household to have these cables replaced with aluminium ones and we are talking of 1 500 metres of cables required to address this challenge,” said Mr Zulu on Tuesday.
“As residents, we are still trying to make representations with Zesa so that we meet halfway because we are struggling to raise that money.”
Residents have gone out of their way to collaborate with Zesa and the police to curb the theft of copper cables and it is sad that they now have to pay USD$60 per household just because some Zesa employees failed to react to the theft on time.
What it means is that residents are now suffering because some people at Zesa are failing to do their job and that is unacceptable.
We, therefore, call for investigations into this matter so that the guilty employees face disciplinary action.