Thieves target solar panels for Victoria Falls’ rural community gardens
BY BRENDA NCUBE
Villagers living in the outskirts of Victoria Falls have been left counting losses after eight suspected thieves broke into their community nutrition gardens and stole solar panels on Saturday last week.
According to the area councillors, the thieves separately stole at least nine solar panels in Mashala, Change and Mpongola wards and vandalised some.
According to Marvelous Mhlanga, one of the farmers from Mashala, the suspects firstly attempted to steal a pump and an inverter but failed, before opting to vandalise the solar panels.
Pascar Mpofu, a councillor for Mashala ward said because of the disruptions, villagers are no longer able to water their gardens, posing a risk to many whose source of livelihoods is in farming.
“All gardening activities have stopped as the only source of water for domestic use and gardening has been cut,” he said.
The solar pumps were installed several years ago by World Vision in a bid to make Hwange villages self-sufficient and have since become the source of livelihood for the community.
For villagers such as Mhlanga, the garden produce could suffice their families and could manage to send their children to school through wholesaling green paper, green beans, carrots and sugar beans as far as Hwange urban.
“Now we are at a loss and not sure how to survive as we are already fetching water for domestic use from the streams,”Mhlanga said.
” We are hoping that the rains will be enough for our crops to ripen, but we don’t know what the future holds. ” she added.
Mpofu said that the solar panels will need to be replaced in time to resume gardening activities and the community is in the process of mobilising a neighborhood watch to safeguard the premises.
“We believe that the thieves are locals working with outsiders,” said Mpofu
He further revealed that the suspects have been caught and are in police custody for questioning.
Meanwhile, several solar panels have also been stolen from boreholes dotted around Hwange National Park, Kazuma Pan National Park and the Zambezi National Park by suspected thieves from neighbouring Zambia.
Trevor Lane, whose Bhejane Trust has been leading in the mobilisation of funds to drill boreholes and install solar panels to power the pumps at the three game parks, said the theft of solar panels intensified during Covid-19 lockdowns.
France’s HDF Energy to develop Zimbabwe’s first hydrogen plant
Zimbabwe’s state-owned electricity distributor has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with French independent power producer HDF Energy (HDF.PA) to develop the southern African country’s first green hydrogen power plant, the companies said in a joint statement on Thursday.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa witnessed the signing of the MoU worth $300 million between the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) and HDF Energy, Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Information said on Twitter.
“The plant will produce green power 24/7 feeding into the grid… The annual electric production will be 178 GWh, providing electricity to more than 220,000 inhabitants,” the statement said, adding that it will be located in southeastern Chipinge district.
HDF said it expected to reach a financial close on the project and start construction in 2024-2025.
The signing of the MoU comes amid Zimbabwe’s bid to diversify its energy mix, following reduced power generation after a big drop in water levels in Lake Kariba.
“This is an encouraging milestone for ZETDC as it comes at a time when the government is encouraging the transition to renewable energy,” engineer John Diya, who was representing the distributor’s acting managing director, said.
Zimbabwe’s government has also set its sights on producing over 1,000 megawatts from solar energy to help narrow the severe energy deficit currently being experienced in the country-Reuters
Binga man brutally murders mother over witchcraft allegations
BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI
Kamativi police has arrested a 34 -year – old Binga man who axed his mother to death after accusing her of practicing witchcraft.
Police in a statement confirmed arresting Sumayili Juma off Simbala Village in Binga for a crime that he committed on Tuesday.
The accused allegedly struck his mother on the head and shoulders, killing her instantly at the family’s homestead.
“Police in Kamativi have arrested Sumayili Juma (34) in connection with a case of murder which occurred on 21/03/23 at Kilima 19, Simbala Village, Binga,” police said.
“The suspect struck his mother with an axe on both shoulders and head after accusing her of witchcraft.”
Meanwhile on Sunday, police in Gwelutshena station in Nkayi arrested Prosper Ncube (33) for a murder case in which he allegedly struck Polite Hlabangani on the abdomen with a brick after a misunderstanding during a gambling game at Gwelutshena shopping centre on January 27.
The victim died upon admission at Nkayi District Hospital and since then, the accused had been on the run.
Malawi floods disaster, Zimbabwean government steps in to offer aid
BY BRENDA NCUBE
Zimbabwe has formed a Disaster Relief Committee to assist the government of Malawi following Cyclone Freddy storm that claimed over 400 and caused extensive damage to homes and social services infrastructure.
The pledge, at it’s final craft plans, was presided over by president Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday while Local Government and Public Works ministry was mandated to lead the lobby.
In the aftermath of the storm, thousands of victims suffered injury and displacement, while the affected areas were rendered impassable.
“In response to the appeal for assistance by Malawian President His Excellency Lazarus Chakwera to his fellow SADC Heads of State and Government, Cabinet has constituted a Disaster Relief Committee led by the Minister of Local Government and Public Works to draw up a comprehensive assistance package for disaster-stricken Malawi, ” post cabinet minutes read.
“The Committee will liaise with the Government of Malawi on modalities for conveying the relief package.”
Cabinet directed that the mobilization of relief assistance should commence immediately and include 10 000 metric tonnes of mealie meal; cooking oil; blankets; clothing; construction material for cabins; sanitisers, detergents, bath soaps, stationery and other learning materials.
“To widen the scope of donations to Malawi, the government is encouraging the private sector, national institutions and citizens to donate generously to this worthy cause.”
According to the United Nations Office of Humanitarian Affairs, the devastating toll of the floods in Malawi has continued to rise, with at least 438 deaths reported, 918 people injured and 282 missing as of March 17.
The report says that nearly 345 200 people, almost half of them being children, were displaced and sheltered in over 500 camps across flood affected areas, where the risk of cholera in overcrowded camps is high. The Malawian government’ search and rescue operations have continued with more than 1,000 people evacuated by 17 March.
A report by the United Nations Satellite Centre indicated that in an area of 5,000 km² flood waters had increased by about 60km² between March 14 and 17.
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