Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

ZESA pleads with govt to ban copper exports which are fuelling vandalism

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) said on Wednesday it was lobbying government to ban issuance of copper export permits to individuals, saying this fuelled vandalism of its infrastructure.

The power utility is facing widespread vandalism of electricity cables by thieves wanting to extract copper, which has a ready market outside the country.

The vandalism has caused huge losses, and disrupted power supplies across the country.

ZESA risk control general manager, Feston Madembo said cases of vandalism of the power utility’s infrastructure was increasing each year, and hoped banning copper export permits could help curb this.

“We have Ministry of Home Affairs issuing copper dealership licences to non-manufacturing and mining companies, probably to scrap dealers. Some of those licence owners later turn out to be vandals.

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“How can we issue copper dealership licences in a country where there is no copper mining? We also have (the) Ministry of Industry and Commerce issuing copper export permits to individuals, to do what?” he asked.

“We don’t have a copper mine in the country, so why issuing permits?”

Mhangura Copper Mine, once the country’s sole copper miner, closed 23 years ago.

Madembo said most of the scrap metal dealers were exporting copper extracted from vandalised electricity cables to markets in South Africa and other countries.

He said between 2017-2022, the country exported 18,4 metric tonnes of copper to South Africa alone.

“Between the above-mentioned period of five years, the country has lost close to over a thousand transformers to vandalism. The reason being that the vandals have permits to export,” he said.