MPs want copper trading totally banned in Zimbabwe
Legislators in the National Assembly have called for the total ban of copper trading in the country, in a bid to curb vandalism of ZESA cables.
Zimbabwe is currently not mining copper since the closure of such mines as Alaska and Mhangura many years ago.
However, in the past decade, the country has seen the theft of copper cable increasing to unimaginable levels.
ZESA and the National Railways of Zimbabwe have been the most affected.
The power utility (ZESA) has been losing transformers across the country. NRZ is said to have lost power cables from Dhabuka to Harare forcing it to rely on diesel.
Let’s just ban the whole copper trade
Speaking during the Second Reading stage of the Copper Control Amendment Bill, Uzumba legislator Simbaneuta Mudarikwa said there was no need for the Bill as the country does not produce copper anymore.
‘’I was a member of the Mines and Energy Committee in the 8th Parliament and a member of the Energy Committee in the 9th Parliament. The amount of distraction that has happened to our infrastructure, Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has put transformers all over to develop rural areas and most of the transformers have now been vandalised.
‘’The Bill for trading in copper, I propose that we just ban the trading in copper because we do not have any copper mines here. We do not produce any copper and we do not even import anything. So, the answer is, let us ban the trading of copper because we are destroying rural development.
‘’Vision 2020 is associated with the availability of electricity in the rural areas. All that infrastructure has now gone to waste because of the trading of copper. Why do we not just ban the trading in copper? Parliament must withdraw that Bill and say we are banning the trading of copper in Zimbabwe because Mhangura Mine which used to mine copper is closed,’’ he said.
Current Copper laws are helping criminals
Honourable Mudarikwa added that even if Mhangura Mine was to start operating, it should be made into a high-security area.
He said the current copper-related laws are only serving to help criminals vandalise the country.
‘’The current arrangement in the Copper Trading Act does not help in any form. We are actually allowing the destruction of the nation of Zimbabwe which puts farmers in a difficult situation. I have a friend of mine who lost a whole transformer when the wheat was just about to tussle. Can you imagine the amount of loss that farmer has made?
‘’So as leaders of the nation, we want to weigh where the benefit is to the nation. Not benefit to a few individuals, a few criminals who have destroyed this nation. They give young children money and say go and bring me this transformer, I will pay you so much.
‘’I move that the Parliament of Zimbabwe must ban the trading of copper,’’ he said.
Ordinary citizens are suffering
Speaking on the same issue, Bulawayo Central legislator Nicola Watson said ordinary citizens have been the most affected by copper cable theft.
‘’The few members of the public I was able to speak to, felt that whilst the Bill might clear off a few rough edges. It just will not be sufficient to stop the theft and vandalism, particularly of ZESA infrastructure.
‘’Residents in urban areas are going for months with no ZESA because of theft of cables. ZESA seems unable to replace copper with aluminium or to make anything. The feeling is that there is a lack of capacity for ZRP to deal with the crime and the Bill does not speak to sufficient capacitating of the security services of the ZRP to deal with those issues.
‘’Honourable Mudarikwa’s suggestion was quite radical, but I would tend to agree with him. I think that this is a much bigger problem and that just passing this Bill simply will not address the issue of so many citizens of Zimbabwe that are going on without power in particular.
‘’The vandalism at the National Railways of Zimbabwe was done some time ago and re-capacitating the National Railways will be quite difficult, but certainly, the people that I have spoken to have said the Bill will not stop the trade in illicit copper,’’ she said.
Laws alone will not change anything
Binga South legislator Honourable Joel Gabbuza said changing laws will not help as the culprits are political heavyweights who are above the law.
‘’I wonder if changing the laws would help in anything. It clearly shows that the level of corruption and the level of involvement of political heavyweights in these scandals is very big. Even if we changed the laws, nothing will happen unless we completely ban the trade in copper.
‘’ We do not have any mine, the last copper mine to operate in this country was Alaska. Right now, there is nowhere in the country where copper is mined. So, why should we give people licences at all? Even if we were to say there must be a certificate of origin, clearly the people in the ministry will be changing and signing for everyone because the people involved in the scandal are very large.
‘’Madam Speaker, ZESA loses 800 transformers a year. That is quite significant. If you convert that to an average of about $5 million per transformer, that is quite a lot of money which we are losing as a country,’’ he said.
MPs want copper trading totally banned in Zimbabwe