Thursday the 16th of January 2015 was a momentous day as it marked the beginning of a new era for the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission & Distribution Company (ZETDC), an era characterised by people centred policies that are management tools to methodically and regularly address many of the challenges faced by ZETDC, namely the HIV and AIDS Policy and the Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) Policy Statements.
The launch was attended by guests from the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Zimbabwe Regulatory Authority (ZERA); National AIDS Council (NAC); Environmental Management Agency (EMA); Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS); Cell Holdings; Naledi Reinsurance Brokers; Rural Electrification Agency (REA), sister companies Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC),Powertel; ZESA Enterprises (ZENT), (ZETDC) Board Members, Management & Staff.
In an opening address the ZETDC Board Chairman, Ambassador John Mvundura who was represented by Engineer Cletus Nyachowe, set the tone for the event by illuminating the HIV and AIDS Policy and Safety, Health and Environmental Policy Statements and their advent.
In a speech delivered by Engineer Zaranyika on behalf of Engineer Gloria Magombo, the ZERA CEO, ZERA went to great lengths describing the realities and dangers of use of electricity as an energy source.
“According to the Electrical Regulatory Authorities council Australia (ERCA) report (2010) Australia recorded 25 deaths between 2009 and 2010 and Zimbabwe recorded 45 deaths during the same period. One would be forgiven to compare the statistics given that the population of Australia is double that of Zimbabwe,” said Engineer Zaranyika.
This clearly illustrated that the number of fatalities in Zimbabwe is too high, thus ZERA is delighted by the advent of the SHE Policy, he said. ZERA added that according the Draft Electricity Public Safety Regulations, to endanger the lives of the public, their property or animals will constitute a criminal offence liable to prosecution and imprisonment. He also delved into the HIV and AIDS Policy stating that the nation loses plentiful skilled workers to this pandemic and that the work place is an appropriate and important setting for HIV awareness programmes.
The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) Director General Mrs Dorcas Chasi said her organisation fully supports the mainstreaming of environmental issues at the workplace as these are the cornerstone of employer safety, health and wellbeing. “The SHE Policy and HIV and AIDS Policy Statements are of grave importance because safety, health and environmental issues it lead to greater profitability for any organisation. Therefore the Policy Statements by ZETDC keep in mind the issue at the heart of EMA,” she said AIDS Council.
The National Aids Council commended the ZETDC board and management for the Policy Statements and taking the initiative in addressing the impact of HIV and Aids in the workplace. Dr Tapuwa Magura in a speech read on his behalf said NAC has created The National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan which underlines the importance of the development of workplace HIV and Aids Policies and Programmes. The significance of the ZETDC HIV and AIDS Policy is found not only in its attempts to curb new infections but also in the fact that the HIV and AIDS pandemic is a threat to the efficient and effective delivery of services and ZETDC provides an essential service to the nation.
Giving the key note address, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development Mr Patson Mbiriri, said the Policy Statements touched on important issues in the electricity sector that need to be addressed, hence ZETDC should be commended. He said it is the legal and moral obligation of ZETDC as the provider of this increasingly relied upon source of energy, that its production, delivery and use is carried out safely.
“In the last five years fatal electrical accidents involving members of the public averaged 35 deaths annually. During the same period, fatal electrical accidents involving employees averaged 3 deaths annually. In 2014 ZETDC lost 23 members of its staff to ill health. In the same year one hundred and eighteen thousand nine hundred and eighty-six (118 986) man hours were lost to the same cause. These high mortality and morbidity rates have a significant impact on staff morale, service delivery and company finances in terms of having to pay medical expenses, death related expenses, recruitment and training of replacement staff, as well as tarnishing the image of the organization, said Mr Mbiriri.