By Shamiso Dzingire
Power utility Zesa Holdings is offering rewards to whistleblowers in a desperate bid to curb vandalism and theft of electricity infrastructure.
Over the last couple of months, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) — a unit of Zesa — has witnessed a surge in vandalism and theft of its infrastructure.
The Zesa subsidiary has, as a result, lost property worth $3,5million as at August 31, 2018.
So severe is the theft that some suburbs have gone for weeks without power, which some members of the public have mistaken for load shedding which Zesa insists was eradicated in December 2015.
In a desperate bid to curb the vandalism and theft of infrastructure, ZETDC last month appealed for community participation to achieve efficient public delivery.
To this end, ZETDC invited whistleblowers to volunteer information that would lead to arrests of perpetrators of theft and vandalism.
To entice the public, the power utility said it will offer rewards to whistleblowers in proven cases.
Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira told the Daily News that the whistle-blowing initiative is the latest strategy to be employed by the parastatal to curb infrastructure destruction.
“Vandalism was surging and still is, hence we are soliciting public support though this initiative,” said Gwasira.
“….Whistleblowers to volunteer specific information relating to theft of power infrastructure and in return, we offer monetary rewards in proven cases that would have led to arrests of perpetrators or where we recover the material.”
Gwasira said the public’s reaction to the whistle-blowing fund was encouraging and expressed optimism that the move will soon pay dividends.
He said: “We are very happy with the public’s response. It’s not only because they want to get paid but also because people value the services that we are providing them with.”
He assured the public that the utility will never compromise the safety of its whistleblowers, adding that “total confidentiality is guaranteed.”
Apart from the whistleblower fund, the power utility has implemented a variety of strategies meant to mitigate vandalism and infrastructure theft.
Over the years, Gwasira said they had put up a loss control division that polices the network, receives tip-offs from the public and conducts combined patrols with law enforcement agents.
“We also have support from the law enforcements chiefly the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
“We also have an anonymous tip line where members of the public report such menaces.”
Gwasira explained that the surge in theft and vandalism of electricity infrastructure occurs on two fronts adding that the effects are not only felt at household level but also at a national level.
He said: “Firstly there is the issue of the existing networks and then there is the issue of new connections. Vandalism affects the existing networks through the theft of transformers, transformer oil and conductors as well as power cables.”
“The effect is such that we continuously have to replace material that we would have put in place already.
“As a result, we are not growing the network because we are replacing instead of investing the infrastructure in new areas.” Daily News.