Government on Tuesday approved proposed amendments to the Electricity Act, which will impose stiffer penalties on those convicted of vandalising electricity infrastructure.
This was revealed by the Minister for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa during a post-cabinet media briefing in Harare on Tuesday. She said:
Cabinet considered and approved the principles for the proposed amendment to the Electricity Act (Chapter 13:19) to introduce stiffer penalties for crimes related to electricity theft, the destruction of and tampering with electricity infrastructure.
The amendments will cover the reviewing of current penalty for identified offences to make the penalties more deterrent, classifying such offences under the Criminal Law Codification Act, which governs serious crimes like murder and rape and compelling courts to impose mandatory sentences as opposed to fines.
For instance, tampering without lawful excuse with any apparatus for generating, transmitting, distributing or supplying electricity with the result that any supply of electricity is cut off or interrupted, which used to attract not less than 10 years, will under the amended law attract not less than 30 years imprisonment.
Theft and vandalism of electricity transformer oil and copper conductors have been on the rise over the past few years, making it difficult for the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) to fulfil its mandate.
Reports indicate that that ZETDC lost US$5 million due to vandalism of infrastructure, primarily theft of copper cables in 2018 alone.