Under the proposals contained in the National Alcoholic Policy, alcohol will be sold between 6am and 7pm during the week and only up to mid-day on Sunday.
While it is abundantly clear that Timothy Stamps has invested a lot of energy in coming up with this alcohol policy, the former health minister needs to be reminded that he is out of sync with the nation’s priorities.
Zimbabweans are at the moment seized with finding a roadmap for a credible election that will end the political impasse and the least the nation expects is a leadership that dwells on trivialities, such as banning beer.
Banning beer from licensed outlets will not reduce Zimbabweans’ appetite for it because they will simply resort to the black market, which thrived before the dollarisation of the economy.
Shebeens, which were dying a natural death, and all the ills associated with them, will rise again. And this will not only be counterproductive socially but devastating economically as it would see thousands losing employment.
Brewers are some of the biggest employers, so restricting beer sales could result in retrenchments. The move will also have a knock-on effect on suppliers and thousands of small-time businesspeople across the country who are among the main employers in the rural areas.
Farmers involved in the growing of maize, sorghum, barley etc, used in the brewing of beer, would be thrown out of business.
On a macro-economic level, the production and sale of beer generates millions of dollars in taxes that benefit our national purse. Government derives much needed revenue from beer sales and liquor licences.
Countries that have introduced such measures have met little success but have instead engendered national instability as the issue takes a political twist.
During prohibition in North America, bootlegging rose and the distribution of alcohol went into the hands of organised criminal gangs, much to the detriment of stability in that country.