Harare – Zimbabwe’s energy minister Samuel Undenge has complained that people are stealing oil from electricity transformers and selling it on to food vendors who use it to fry chips, the stateZimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation reported on Monday.
In an accusation that’s been trotted out before in this southern African country, Undenge was reported as saying the oil stolen from vandalised transformers was being sold to fast food outlets.
Anyone thinking of buying those chips should be careful, the minister said.
“This is a cause for concern for the government because the oil is not for human consumption,” Undenge said.
“We urge people to be on the lookout and avoid consuming such chips,” he added as he officially commissioned electricity projects in Mberengwa East, in central Zimbabwe.
Back in 2011, a spokesperson for the state Zesa power authority said that people were stealing oil from transformers in Harare and selling it to roadside food vendors and to motorists.
There have been similar reports of stolen transformer oil being used for frying food in Kenya and Zambia.
But this time some Zimbabweans have expressed scepticism over Undenge’s claims.
On Twitter, Zimbabweans suggested that it would take some know-how to drain oil from a transformer.
Blackouts have been less frequent in many parts of Zimbabwe over the last few months.
That’s being credited not necessarily on an improved electricity supply but rather to the lessening of demand from firms and industry that’s been badly hit by Zimbabwe’s most recent economic downturn.