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Illicit Beer Sales Compromise The Fight Against COVID-19

by Laiton Kandawire - Patsaka-Nyaminyami Community Radio Correspondent
06 May 2020 at 16:16hrs | Views
As with most things during the national lockdown period, the government has dithered, ducked and dived and virtually absconded its mandate, becoming a mere observer in the resulting melee for survival by citizens. The sale of alcohol is a case in point.

Initially the Police banned the sale of alcohol before the government moved in and reversed the ban.

Delta Beverages, the country's biggest supplier of alcoholic beverages, was declared an essential service and has been operating throughout the lockdown.

The government has further declared that "places of worship, bars, bottle stores, gyms and other recreational facilities will remain closed", setting the grounds for an illicit beer trade.

Delta Beverages have not made the situation better by asking for orders and supplying alcoholic beverages to suspended operations. What are they supposed to do with the alcohol other than find a market for it? We spoke to several bottle stores yesterday and they confirmed receiving their Chibuku Supa from Delta Karoi. "Yes (received Supa), beer from Kariba tomorrow (today)".

These retailers are being tempted into the illegal sale of alcohol as they cannot keep Chibuku Supa beyond its short shelf life.

No one was picking calls at Delta Beverages Kariba depot today, but reports of soldiers beating and otherwise abusing beer drinkers have been confirmed in Kariba in outlets that should be closed during this lockdown. Some victims have come forward with their stories. It is also a fertile ground for corruption as the COVID-19 Taskforce enforcers take bribes and cast a blind eye on such operations.

Operations that are following the law and remain closed are hugely being disadvantaged.

In a message sent to retailers  today, Delta Beverages appears to have realized its role in the illicit trade and sought to set matters right. "I hope I find you ALL well. Am asking for orders from ALL in anticipation of the end of the lockdown after next week. Let us stock up so that we good to go when the lockdown stages keep relaxing." It is hard to imagine that bars and bottle stores would stock up week in, week out, without finding selling funnels.

The government might as well come out in the open and declare that it wants the imbibers tax revenue, instead of compromising the hard work health personnel are putting in to contain COVID-19.

The advice given to King Lemuel in Proverbs 31 clearly states that when people drink they "forget the law and pervert the justice of all the afflicted"

The fight against COVID-19 requires clear government regulations that are evenly enforced. The sooner we can beat the disease, the sooner we can return to the new normal and get on with our lives.

Kariba is yet to record a positive case of COVID-19, but that is no reason to let complacency set. It is imperative that the community is on its guard and dissuade those seeking to compromise the common good.

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Source - Byo24News

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