THE government is pushing for a mandatory 30-year jail sentence for people found guilty of vandalising electricity infrastructure to curb the vice, Energy minister Fortune Chasi said yesterday.
Officially opening the inaugural Renewable Conference and Expo organised by The Standard newspaper in Victoria Falls, Chasi said vandalism of Zesa infrastructure had now gone out of hand.
He said damage of Zesa installations, especially transformers, bordered on sabotage.
"Close to 3 000 transformers have been vandalised countrywide," he said. "We still don't understand the motive behind these crimes.
"In government, we have agreed that nothing short of a mandatory sentence for those caught even with a bolt from Zesa transformers."
The conference was attended by independent power producers, renewable energy companies, academics and government departments.
Zesa and the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority were also some of the government institutions that took part inthe event.
Chasi said Zimbabwe was expected to join other countries with a reliable procurement process for renewable energy products after government joined hands with the African Development Bank (AfDB).
He said the country was making strides to achieve set goals in renewable energy supplies.
"We are proud to be joining the prosperous countries that have clear supporting policy frameworks including targets for renewable energy technologies," he said.
"We have started the process of developing a renewable energy competitive bidding process with the help of the African Development Bank. Soon, we will also be counted among countries that would have run a successful and competitive procurement process for solar PV [photovoltaic] and concentrated solar power, among others."
Chasi said they had ambitious targets for solar thermal heating installations through the Southern African Thermal Training and Demonstration Initiative (Soltrain) programme, which has membership from southern African countries.
Chasi said the initiative was meant to boost the country's energy efforts through the "national solar water heating programme, which has seen the introduction of a key statutory instrument that supports this initiative."
The country has been suffering from a weakened power supply system, which has seen massive load-shedding since mid-last year.