Editor's Comment

Cage electricity pole vandals

VANDALISM, regardless of the motive behind it, is not only retrogressive but a criminal act which must be dealt with sternly according to the provisions of the law.
Government invests huge sums of money in building public infrastructure and procuring properties across sectors in the hope of making life better for all citizens and transitioning to the development status.
For a developing country like Zambia, such investments do not come that easily due to the many competing needs against limited resources.
It is therefore hoped that when an investment is done in a particular area, progress is achieved so that Government can move on to invest in other equally important areas.
It is however saddening that while Government is busy spending huge sums of money on various projects in its bid to make life better for Zambians, some disgruntled individuals go round destroying property for reasons known to themselves.
One such case is the recent cutting down of an electricity pole in Southern Province.
Last Friday, unknown people cut down an electricity supply pole of a project for the benefit of the people of Mbabala constituency.
This has incensed President Edgar Lungu, and justifiably so.
Government means well and wants to ensure that the living standards of people of Mbabala Constituency are improved through access to electricity, among other services.
It is therefore disheartening and frustrating that the very people who are supposed to benefit from the power connection are the ones vandalising the poles – in effect cutting electricity supply.
If indeed the act of cutting down the electricity pole in Mbabala is politically motivated, then we fear for the levels our politics are sinking to.
President Lungu has intelligence that the people behind the cutting down of the power line pole belong to the UPND.
If these are the levels which people are ready to go to in their pursuit for political office, then where is the genuineness in wanting to serve the country?
For those who hope to serve in public office, it is expected that they are moved by passion to build a better country.
But if people are ready to tear down the country as a way of gaining political mileage, then it is without doubt that they do not mean well for the country.
For the people of Mbabala, who have never had electricity for decades, this is a life-time opportunity they cannot afford to waste.
We believe the majority of the people in Mbabala are looking forward to the day they will be able to access electricity when the rural electrification project is completed.
But some individuals blinded by personal interests want to derail or take away this opportunity from them. This should not be allowed at all.
As the President rightly said, this is economic sabotage because it deprives people of the much required energy for productivity.
Besides, such acts are costly as Government is forced to replace the vandalised properties instead of using the resources on other needy areas.
It is also time-consuming because it means spending more time working on the same area or project.
Vandalism is no doubt an enemy of development which the country should guard against.
If as a country we are to make progress towards attaining the status of a developed country, there is need to deal with vandals decisively.
As a country of laws, we cannot allow people to just wake up and destroy valuable properties procured using tax-payers’ money.
Such people are a menace to society and must, therefore, be locked behind bars, preferably for a very long time.
According to Southern Province Commissioner of Police Diamond Likashi, the case of cutting down the power line pole in Mbabala will be treated as espionage, which attracts between 25 and 30 years imprisonment upon conviction.
This should deter would-be offenders, but first the law enforcers should ensure that they secure a conviction otherwise some people will begin to think they are above the law and can, therefore, get away with such a crime.
Before committing such acts, people should ask themselves if it is worth their freedom for three decades.
While one suspect has been arrested, we implore the Zambia Police Service not to relent in making sure that the criminals behind such retrogressive acts are brought to book.

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