Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Chegutu man gets ten years in jail for reconnecting ZESA

Chegutu man gets ten years in jail for reconnecting ZESA

By Tererai Karimakwenda
07 March, 2012

The recent case of a Chegutu resident, hit with a ten-year jail sentence for 
reconnecting his electricity, has highlighted the desperation of many who 
are being disconnected by the power authority for non-payment of bills.

According to the state run Herald newspaper, Chegutu resident Obvious 
Muposiwa owed money to ZESA and was first disconnected on February 8th. He 
reconnected his electricity as soon as the technician left, but this re- 
connection was soon discovered.

A second worker was dispatched to remove the circuit breaker in an effort to 
ensure that Muposiwa got no power at all. But the desperate 31 year old 
reportedly used wires to connect directly to power supplies.

This time he was arrested and brought to court, where he was convicted of 
“destroying or interfering with ZESA equipment” and was hit with a ten year 
sentence by Chegutu magistrate Fabian Feshete.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), who have been helping 
disconnected residents to negotiate payment plans with ZESA, described the 
sentence as “too harsh and too long” while also advising residents to avoid 
illegal connections because they are dangerous.

“We sympathize with all residents. We do not support them connecting 
themselves but we think a lesser sentence could have sent the message home,” 
explained CHRA coordinator Mfundo Mlilo, who added that Muposiwa’s case was 
“a sign of desperation”.

Online readers who commented on the harsh sentence given the Chegutu 
resident expressed shock and anger, criticizing ZESA for cutting off poor 
people why politicians and influential chefs got better treatment. Others 
accused ZESA workers of stealing cables without being punished and 
soliciting bribes from poor residents.

One reader wrote: “What about comrade Chombo? Has he settled his bill? And 
other big chefs who thought being ZANU masks you from any debt due? The jail 
sentence is too harsh. This offence deserves a 3-month term not 10 
years..that’s unbelievable.”

Another wrote: “ZESA employees using electricity for free yet there are 
being paid monthly salaries. ZESA should be sued for forcing communities to 
pay towards the repair of vandalized transformers by deliberately taking 
ages to repair them…”

Mlilo at CHRA said ZESA has been disconnecting residents despite the fact 
that they themselves have not been providing consistent power supplies. 
Asked what residents can do if they owe money, he advised that they 
negotiate a payment plan before electricity is disconnected, or in order to 
be reconnected.

“If the payment plans are not honoured we encourage residents to approach 
our offices or our local district coordinators,” Mlilo explained. He said 
ZESA has so far been honouring the payment plans and sparing many residents 
from disconnection. A few cases in Warren Park and Sunningdale were wrongly 
disconnected and CHRA mediated their reconnection.


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