Zesa accountable for tradgedies

HARARE - Fifteen years ago an overhead Zesa Holdings (Zesa) cable broke on a windy afternoon and fell to the ground in thick grassland on a cattle farm.

For some months before the incident, the pole supporting the Zesa cables had been leaning perilously but repeated requests for attention to the matter had yielded no action.  

As soon as the live cable hit the ground it started a fire which immediately grew into an inferno as it was spread by the strong wind.  

By the following day the extent of the damage was assessed: How many fence poles had been destroyed; how much wire had been damaged and how many hectares of grazing had been lost.

Quotes for repairs were obtained along with the costs of stockfeed that would be needed to support the cattle due to lost grazing because of Zesa’s negligence in not securing their overhead cables.
A formal complaint was made and in less than a week an insurance assessor arrived to inspect the damage, collect the quotes and provide claim forms that needed to be completed and submitted to Zesa’s insurers.
A couple of months later a cheque arrived in the post from Zesa’s insurance company, the claim had been agreed and compensation paid.

Something has gone drastically wrong at Zesa in the 15 years since then.

Reading the press report last week that Zesa gave only $300 to Constance Sinachinga for the loss of her 10-year-old son because of their negligence, makes us question where Zesa insurance assessors are.  

It was with shock that we followed the horrifying news in March of the death of Takudzwa.

The Grade Four boy was electrocuted and suffered severe burns after coming into contact with live Zesa cables which lay exposed and unprotected on the ground.

Tragically Takudzwa died the following day. Sinachinga said Zesa produced $300 for food for mourners at Takudzwa’s funeral but that no officials came to the burial or made a public apology.

People in the area said the Zesa cables had been lying exposed for three months; numerous residents had complained but Zesa did nothing until after the tragic incident which took  the life of the boy.

Eight months later, plagued by the trauma of the loss of her son, Sinachinga’s lawyers have filed for compensation from Zesa.

This is one of a growing number of tragic incidents concerning Zesa to have been in the news.
In September we heard the horror story of Alexio Tembo who had been injured by electric shock after helping Zesa engineers who had asked for volunteers to hold cables and then switched the line on by mistake.

After months of hospitalisation and medical treatment Tembo’s business stand was taken over and he had to sell his assets in order to pay other debts that had accumulated.  

Tembo lost the use of his right arm and left leg and despite Zesa admitting responsibility, he has not received any compensation.

Then there is the case of Linda Tapfumaneyi whose house caught fire after a power surge minutes after the return of electricity following load shedding.

Tapfumaneyi’s one-year-old baby died of smoke inhalation.

Zesa must be held to account for these unnecessary tragedies.

Their lethargic action, temporary repairs, lack of seasonal maintenance from one year to another, damaged and leaning poles and fallen, live cables must be dealt with.
Prompt attention is needed from their insurers and all victims of their negligence must make claims so that their shoddy workmanship hurts their pockets as well as ours. - Cathy Buckle


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