Govt warns illicit alcohol manufacturers

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Zambian Breweries Country Director Jose Daniel Moran, Corporate Affairs Director Ezekiel Sekele and Legal Counsel Deborah Bwalya with stakeholders at the third Multi-stakeholder meeting on Alcohol Landscape in Zambia

Government has warned manufacturers of spirits known as tujilijili and junta to follow laid down regulations and procedures or face the wrath of the law.

And Zambian Breweries country director Jose Moran has called on stakeholders in the alcohol industry to help consumers develop smart drinking habits and make good alcohol choices.

Speaking during the third Multi-stakeholder meeting on Alcohol Landscape in Zambia on Friday (September 22), Local Government Minister Vincent Mwale, who was represented by Margaret Kapanda, reiterated government’s concern over alcohol abuse and the illicit alcohol trade in the country.

“Let us not kill people with so much high alcohol content in a small bottle and being sold almost at giveaway prices. I am told an individual just needs a K5 and they are done for the day with a 40 percent alcohol content in a 200 ml bottle. Deaths have been reported in the media in the recent past resulting from the consumption of ‘junta or tujilijili,” he said. “I wish to commend all stakeholders for taking steps in ensuring responsible drinking and discouraging underage drinking.”

Mwale said government was ready and committed to ensuring that the right policies were instituted that would manage the sector.

“For example, one of our suggestions is to introduce a statutory instrument that could aim at regulating the alcohol sector. The onus of ensuring responsibility for the sale of alcohol and identification of the producer will be placed on the retailer,” he said. “I therefore call upon you the players in the alcohol sector together with the regulator to come up with a summary table of action plans that will be forwarded to government as we progress to formulate the statutory instruments.”

And Mwale said illicit alcohol in the sector could not remain unchecked and measures would be put in place to ensure that responsible sale of alcohol is placed not only on the producers but also the retailers.

He said penalties would also be placed on the last person in the value chain as it was the responsibility of the retailer to identify the supplier of alcoholic beverages.

“A number of times many of the manufacturers of alcoholic beverages have gone undetected,” he noted.

Mwale commended stakeholders for their efforts in ensuring sanity in the alcohol industry and responsible drinking.

He said it was saddening that despite the rules and regulations in place on alcohol trading some people were deliberately not complying with the law.

“It is disheartening how people decide to disregard the law and allow under 18s to buy or drink beer and close trading places long after the specific operating time,” he said.

He was, however, pleased with relevant authorities bringing to book traders that were found wanting and not complying with the law.

Mwale called on parents to closely monitor the children’s activities and help raise good and responsible citizens.

He said recent reports of school going youths having a beer party and engaging in illicit activities left much to be desired.

And Mr Moran said Zambian Breweries was concerned with the unregulated alcohol which was a danger to the health of the consumers.

He said such had double negative impact through wrong behaviours and loses of tax as many manufactures were not paying tax.

“Zambian Breweries wants to help consumers make smart drinking choices of alcohol especially that we are very much aware of the harm the alcohol abuse can have. We are also concerned about underage drinking. We are committed to fight under age beer consumption and next week we will be launching an 18+ campaign,” he said.

The 18+ ambassadors will be going around schools to sensitize pupils on the dangers of alcohol consumption and abuse.

He said stakeholders had the responsibility to help consumers make the better choices and be aware of the harm any type of alcohol they chose to drink can have.

Moran expressed happiness with the government’s stance on curbing alcohol abuse
Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) Chief Executive Officer Chipego Zulu said it will soon make membership to the organisation mandatory for all alcohol manufacturers.

Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) representative Peggy Chituta also said the organisation was working to ensure that the alcohol on the market meets the quality required, it was properly labelled and had caution message on the adverse effects
She said there was need to improve the aspect of transportation and hygiene in the bulk transportation and sale of opaque beer
Ms Chituta said ZABS was working with ZRA and monitoring the alcohol coming in the country.

She disclosed that the organisation was undergoing change which will see the inspection section to be a separate entity.

Among stakeholder’s present included the Ministry of Health, Lusaka City Council, Lusaka Province Liquor Association, National Aids Council and alcohol producers.


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