Zimbabwean Parliament Approves Electricity Amendment Bill With Harsher Penalties
The Zimbabwean National Assembly which is the lower chamber of the bicameral Parliament of Zimbabwe has approved the Electricity Amendment Bill.
Clause 2 of the Bill introduces harsher penalties for the illegal abstraction or diversion of electricity and removes the option to pay a fine, except in special cases.
Clause 3 introduces heavier penalties for the transportation of material used in electricity generation, transmission, distribution or supply, and removes the option to pay a fine. Instead, a person convicted of such a crime will be liable to a minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment.
However, the Court can consider special circumstances that might justify a lesser penalty. The Bill aims to discourage illegal activities related to electricity and promote the sustainable supply of electricity in Zimbabwe.
Electricity property theft remains a significant problem in Zimbabwe, with copper cables being a common target due to their high value on the black market. This problem is driven by high unemployment and economic hardship. It is suspected that most of the stolen cables are smuggled to neighbouring South Africa and then shipped further to countries that use the metal in the construction and manufacturing industries.
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Theft of copper cables from power and telecommunications infrastructure results in significant financial losses for companies and can lead to widespread power cuts and communication disruptions. Vandalism to electricity infrastructure such as transformers and cables has also been reported to contribute to power cuts across the country.