Zambian Breweries has called for an urgent clampdown on illicit alcohol in the country.
The call follows reports of widespread consumption of illegal alcoholic beverages in different parts of Zambia amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are calling for an immediate end to the production, sale, and consumption of illegal alcoholic beverages such as junta, kachasu and tujilijili,” said Zambian Breweries Country Director Jose Moran.
Illicit alcohol is not only harmful to health, but also constrains Zambia’s wealth creation, said Mr Moran, who stressed the need to differentiate between unregulated illegal brews and the highly regulate and quality controlled alcoholic beverages.
“Illicit alcohol is produced in unhygienic and uncontrolled environments. This poses a huge threat to the health of consumers. Moreover, illegal alcohol dealers do not remit taxes to government; thereby, denying our country the much-needed economic development,” he stressed.
A study by Euromonitor International of 2018, showed that governments across 20 countries lost close to US$4 billion per year due to illicit alcohol.
“It makes sad reading to note that Zambia is among the 20 counties studied by the London-based research institution. We cannot go on losing revenue to illicit alcohol like this. The time to save our people and our economy from the stings of this illegal business is now,” Mr Moran emphasised.
Zambia is one of the top three countries with the highest volume of illicit alcohol in Africa, according to the 2018 report.
The county ranks second with 69.5% after Mozambique (73%), while Uganda ranks third with 63.3%, according to the Euromonitor International.
“It is against this background that we call on our security wings such as the Zambia Police to support efforts of the Zambia Revenue Authority and help us clamp down illicit alcohol in our country to create a better world for all. With illicit alcohol out of the way, our people will be healthier, and our country will be wealthier,” the ZB country director noted.
Mr Moran also pledged the brewing company’s commitment to sensitizing the public on the dangers of illicit alcohol through a programme called Smart Drinking.
“As Zambian Breweries, we shall continue to create awareness on the effects of illicit alcohol through our Smart Drinking initiative. We take our responsibility of alcohol very seriously and we shall sensitise the public through the mass media, and of course, through our social media platforms like Facebook,” he said.