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The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) has had to crush a third batch of incandescent light bulbs since government passed the law banning the importation, manufacture or sale of conventional lights, in May 2017.

The Herald reported that 10,000 incandescent light bulbs that were smuggled into the country were destroyed in Harare.

According to Sam Zaranyika, a senior electricity engineer with ZERA, crushing 80,000 bulbs will prevent the equivalent of 8MW from going to waste.

“Looking at a place like Westgate (an upmarket suburb of Harare), 8MW can supply about eight Westgates. Or the whole of Chitungwiza at any one time,” said Zaranyika.

ZERA’s official said the energy regulator has destroyed other smaller numbers of wasteful lights in between the period since the ban and now, working together with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and the police.

ZIMRA has been most effective bringing to book importers and wholesalers of banned lights. Read more: ZESA urged to meet deadline for Hwange Power Station expansion

Banned incandescent light bulbs

Media reports that ZERA still faces significant challenges in manpower and justice delivery, something that could hinder effective implementation of the ban.

Offenders often get off with a fine of as low as $100 even though the law that banned incandescent light bulbs was looking for jail terms of up to six months and a fine of $5,000, according to media.

It is reported that by the end of April, more than 170 businesses selling or manufacturing banned lights had been prosecuted in Harare and Bulawayo since the ban took effect last year, but only 19 of those were jailed.

“We have had challenges with the courts to the effect that we have had to tweak the legislation, which has since gone for publication,” said Zaranyika.

“The updated version will make it an offence to warehouse or to store the banned product. In the past, offenders were acquitted if they pleaded the stock they were holding was in transit (to another town or country),” he stated.