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'ZESA committing genocide in Matobo' says Linda Masarira

by Mandla Ndlovu
27 Feb 2020 at 14:06hrs | Views
LEAD Zimbabwe President Linda Masarira has taken ZESA head on over what she called systematic genocide through the continued lack of electricity in Matobo District.
Masarira said the company was bordering on dangerous ground because the area has irate people who suffered the brunt of the Gukurahundi genocide.

She said the lack of electricity has caused the hospitals and mortuaries in the district to cease functioning leading to a lot of deaths.

Read her full statement below:

The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) which is a subsidiary Company of ZESA holdings is committing a systemic genocide through structural violence. According to the University of Peace, Structural violence is the worst form of violence that works effectively, slowly and surely, breaking and destroying the human spirit.

Structural violence is practiced in many countries and societies where governance systems are either corrupt or deliberately seek to deal with certain communities or people groups that are perceived opponents to a political view or belong to an ethnic group that is a threat to those who are at the centre. Marginalization and exclusion are part of the characteristics of Structural violence. The whole district of Matobo, which ironically is where the infamous Balagwe concentration camp was located in the early 80s and thousands of Ndebele Speaking people were tortured, killed and thrown into the deep Antelope mine shaft has not had electricity since 28 August 2019.

The district has at least 5 major irrigation projects that sustain no less than 5000 households and over 25000 people.

Maphisa District Hospital is the referral hospital servicing at least 5 Rural Health Clinics covering a large area that ranges from Mambale up to the outskirts of Bulawayo.

All these health centres have not had electricity since 28 August 2019, consequently, lives have been lost as the hospital equipment that is powered by electricity since stopped working, only stethoscopes and thermometers are working and patients have been referred to Bulawayo.

The hospital mortuary has not been working too. The district is dependant on agriculture, mining and tourism and all these sectors have been affected with farmers being the most affected as the water pumping equipment grounded to a halt.

Residents at Maphisa growth point had gone for all these months without water and electricity creating a health time bomb. At ARDA Maphisa irrigation, farmers lost at least 80% of their crops to drought as they could not water their crops.

Miners have had to resort to using generators and they have been grossly affected by exorbitant fuel prices as local services station took advantage of the situation, selling the precious liquid in forex despite not being licensed to sell in forex.

Several efforts have been made by the local leaders to engage ZESA but all yielding no result as the Power Utility Company failed or blatantly refused to meet with stakeholders and find a solution to the crisis. Fortune Chasi I am humbly requesting your office to intervene.

The House of Assembly member who is also the deputy minister Primary &Secondary Education Hon Edgar Moyo, the DA, Council CEO and other stakeholders have made numerous attempts to engage ZESA but the power utility company has not been willing to engage in any dialogue.

There has been a glimpse of hope as the Zimbabwe Regulatory Authority, ZERA had promised stakeholders that they were going to convene at meeting of stakeholders to facilitate dialogue between ZESA and its customers but the Regulating authority has also dented the hopes of stakeholders by sending messages deferring the proposed meeting citing budgetary constraints, a reason that does not go well with stakeholders who feel that their issue is not being prioritized considering that ZERA recently hosted a regional energy indaba in Victoria Falls where all officials were living in expensive hotels in the resort town. ZERA is somehow complicit in the matter and activists in Matopo seeking an audience with Mnangagwa are being blocked.

They reached out to me with good faith that I push for energy to be restored in Matopos since all efforts to get their plight addressed are hitting a brick wall, worse still the province does not seem to have leadership. The District plunged into darkness on 28 August 2019 owing to alleged copper cable theft on ZESA powerline which the locals believe its an in-house job within ZESA staff based in Gwanda.

About 14km stretch was stolen and in response ZESA removed 67km of the remaining copper cables, saying they are replacing with Aluminium and only 4.5km has been covered since then and there seem to be suspicions that the cable somehow "disappeared". Other Stakeholders believe that the action by ZESA is simply an act of tribalism. I am calling for the intervention of President Mnangagwa before the situation gets out of hand.

Should government fail to immediately address the issue, tempers might flare and we dont need another spat of hostile citizen action at a time we are trying to build national cohesion, unity & develop our country.  

People are dying and livelihoods are being destroyed in Matobo.

If ZETDC can't restore electricity in the area, it is imperative for government to remove duty on all solar gadgets and allow investment in renewable energy in the area.

All basic human rights in Matopos are being violated. The constitution reigns supreme in this country. I will not sit back and watch whilst a whole community is being denied basic human rights. There is no one who is more Zimbabwean than the other.

Source - Linda Masarira