BY KENNETH NYANGANI
ENERGY and Power Development minister Zhemu Soda has said the rural electrification programme was being hampered by economic challenges facing the country, adding that the 6% electrification levy and fiscal allocation by government was not adequate to accelerate the programme.
Speaking at the commissioning of the electrified Garahwa and Mukoho schools, Garahwa Business Centre and Chief Mupungu’s homestead in Chipinge at the weekend, Soda also raised concern over vandalism of electrical equipment.
“The rural electrification programme has not been spared from the economic and other challenges faced by our country over the past few years. The major challenge faced by the Rural Electrification Fund (REF) is inadequate funding. The 6% electrification levy that REF gets through electricity sales and the fiscal allocation by government are not adequate to accelerate the programme or to sustain the momentum already gained by the programme,” he said.
“This year, the situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic which has negatively affected the sectors of the economy of Zimbabwe, ,resulting in rural electrification inflows,” he said.
Turning to vandalism of electrical fittings, he said: “It is, however, disturbing to note the rampant increases in cases of theft and vandalism in particular conductors and transformers. I would like to urge the community to ensure that the grid infrastructure is not vandalised. Beneficiaries are therefore looked to jealously guard the electricity infrastructure provided against acts of sabotage,” he said
The government established the REF in 2002 through an Act of Parliament to facilitate rapid and equitable electrification of rural areas in Zimbabwe, thereby promoting rural development and upliftment of lifestyles of rural Zimbabweans.