By Mthabisi Tshuma
Residents of Spitzkop North suburb in Gwanda have no kind words for the Zimbabwe Electrity Supply Authority (Zesa), saying the entity has neglected them by not electrifying their homes for over 10 years.
The high-density suburb started developing in the early 2000s but since then, residents have been in the dark.
A spate of robberies and all sorts of vice have left residents insecure.
Most of the residents rely on solar energy to light up their homes and use gas for cooking.
A Chronicle news crew visited the suburb on Monday and residents expressed dismay on the conduct of the electricity provider which has not fulfilled its promise of availing electricity.
Mr Wellington Nare, a resident and Gwanda Residents Association secretary for youth said the unavailability of electricity has put their lives in danger as there is a high crime rate.
“My parents were some of the first to purchase Spitzkop North Extension stands around 2006 and 2007. I started staying in Spitzkop North Extension almost 10 years ago. The challenges we have faced due to unavailability of electricity are many as our area has the highest crime rate due to the fact that most areas do not have lights and criminal elements take opportunity to carry out their illegal activities.
“It is very risky to move around our area during the night because of fear of being killed, robbed or raped,” he said.
Mr Nare said as a number of residents are in the informal sector they have been negatively affected as they cannot sell products that need adequate refrigeration.
Ms Siduduzile Masilela who started staying in the area on December 1, 2007 said they once approached Zesa and technicians set up the electricity poles but the development was halted.
“We are in need of electricity and around 2013 we engaged Zesa. They erected poles in almost half the area after a survey.
“They gave us hope by encouraging those who had not tubed their houses to do so but soon after August 2013 the erecting of poles was halted,” said Ms Masilela.
She said the lack of electricity has led to deforestation in nearby bushes.
Mr Vho Mathe said, “ This is an area that houses a big learning community in colleges, polytechnics and universities.
As schools are closed with some lessons being done online, the students are failing to carry out their school work.
“We feel Zesa should engage us as residents again and tell us how best we can contribute towards accessing the much needed lighting,” he said.
However, another resident identified as SaJunior said fellow residents should embrace alternative sources of energy.
“I use solar energy which is very convenient and cheap to mantain. For cooking l use gas which is also cheap compared to electricity. l never miss Manchester United games,” he said.
In an interview, Gwanda mayor Njabulo Siziba said Zesa is to blame for not supplying electricity to the residents.
“I understand that engagements have been made before with the power utility and now what l can say is that the biggest challenge is with Zesa.The company is an independent entity with mandates to fulfil but it’s not doing so.
“As a municipality we are also trying to play our part by sourcing funds but just like many projects the challenge is with hyper inflation,” said Cllr Siziba.
Contacted for comment Zesa Gwanda officer Mr Toddie Ntombi referred questions to the district manager Engineer Sithelo Nkiwane. Eng Nkiwane’s phone rang unanswered and he did not respond to questions sent to him. The Chronicle.