By VENERANDA LANGA
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) requires more than 3 000 transformers to replace stolen or obsolete ones, but faces hurdles of getting foreign currency to procure them, Energy and Power Development deputy minister Magna Mudyiwa has said.
Responding to questions from legislators last week in the National Assembly, Mudyiwa said the local transformer manufacturing company, Zent, was considering manufacturing aluminum transformers to reduce vandalism.
The current transformers are made of copper materials.
Umzingwane MP Levi Mayihlome (Zanu PF) had asked her to explain why Zent only allocated seven transformers for a whole month for the Western region when more were needed.
“I would like to inform the House that the output from Zent has been generally low such that all regions have got a huge backlog of transformers,” responded said.
“ZETDC requires in excess of 3 000 distribution transformers countrywide. The procurement process was completed more than two years ago, but the suppliers could not source the required foreign currency to import the transformers. The same applies to Zent, which is also awaiting delivery of kits for manufacture of new transformers. The few that are being released are repaired transformers.”
Mayihlome demanded an explanation from the deputy minister on why her ministry was taking too long to localise production or development of transformers.
Mudyiwa said Zent was looking for modalities to produce transformers made from aluminium, instead of copper, to reduce vandalism.
Chegutu West MP Dextor Nduna (Zanu PF) said the best way to curb stealing of copper wire was to have government revoke copper licences because Mhangura Copper Mine was comatose yet the country has several companies with licences.
Mudyiwa said government was in the process of amending the Electricity Act to take into consideration the theft of copper, adding that very soon, the amendments would be brought to Parliament.
Recently, Energy ministry secretary Partson Mbiriri said Zesa Holdings was losing three transformers per night.
Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya (MDC Alliance) accused ministers of using the issue of foreign currency as a scapegoat to mask lack of implementation of projects. He said it was the role of the minister to ask for the foreign currency for the purchase of the transformers.
But Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said western-imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe had created a toxic macro-economic environment and urged all MPs to speak with one voice calling for their removal.