Electricity Amendment Bill: Stricter Sentences and Vigilance Key to Combatting Vandalism of Power Infrastructure


Parliament of Zimbabwe

The Parliament of Zimbabwe is taking decisive action to address the rampant issue of electricity vandalism and theft with the introduction of the Electricity Amendment Bill. The proposed legislation aims to impose stricter penalties on individuals involved in the theft, vandalism, and unauthorized abstraction of electrical equipment used in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity.

Vandalism of Electricity installations does not only affect the finances of Power companies . Image from Twitter/@DHglobalservice

In today’s parliamentary session, Hon. Sen. Mohadi and Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira expressed their support for the Bill, with the lawmakers emphasizing the importance of deterring such offenses and protecting critical infrastructure for the benefit of the nation. Hon. Sen. Mohadi firmly advocated for the exclusion of vandals from receiving presidential pardons, stating, “When people are being granted Presidential pardon, those that commit acts of vandalism against power generation and power distribution equipment should not benefit from a presidential pardon.” He believes that stiffer sentences would serve as deterrents, adding, “All that points to the fact that people should be given stiffer sentences and that stiffer sentences should act as deterrents.”

Highlighting the significant role electricity plays in sustaining agriculture and enabling modern technological advancements, Hon. Sen. Mohadi stressed the importance of safeguarding power infrastructure. He asserted, “The issue of agriculture being sustained by the provision of electricity, school children are also being assisted in utilizing modern technology.” His view was that the destruction or vandalism of power infrastructure should not be tolerated, as it undermines the progress and development of the country. The economic consequences of power infrastructure vandalism were echoed by Hon. Sen. Chirongoma who emphasized the devastating impact of transformer theft on farmers

Supporting the call for stricter penalties, Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira drew attention to the potential reduction in crime rates when harsher sentences are imposed. He questioned, “To what extent have stiffer penalties lessened the commission of these offenses?” While acknowledging the lack of specific statistics, he argued, “The stiffer the penalty, the more deterrent it would be to the offender and the more reason one would refrain from committing an offense.”

The lawmakers also raised concerns about the involvement of ZESA employees in acts of vandalism. Hon. Sen. Chirongoma acknowledged that workers within the organization were suspected of being responsible for theft and vandalism. In response, it was proposed that ZESA officials found guilty of such crimes should face stiffer sentences. However, the emphasis was on universal laws and punishments to ensure fairness and equality.

To complement the efforts of the proposed Bill, Hon. Sen. Chirongoma highlighted the measures being taken by ZESA to protect its equipment. Drones and cameras were now being employed to detect and document instances of vandalism. However, he urged collective responsibility, stating, “It is our duty, all of us, to safeguard Government equipment that is in our areas.”

Hon. Sen. Chimbudzi also voiced concerns about the effectiveness of fines as a deterrent for wealthy offenders. He asserted that imprisonment would serve as a stronger deterrent, stating, “A person with money may commit an offense well knowing that should they be fined, they would easily be able to pay it, but if they are going to be incarcerated, that will act as a deterrence for him.”

The motion and second reading of the Electricity Amendment Bill concluded with a motion to proceed to the third reading of the Bill, which was unanimously agreed upon.

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