The Sunday Mail
Government has revived its bid to regulate consumption of alcohol with a Cabinet committee recently approving a draft policy outlawing sale of alcoholic products during certain days, hours and to pregnant women.
It has been gathered that the National Alcohol Policy has since received blessings from various line ministries and is set to be tabled in Cabinet anytime soon.
The push to enforce a host of restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol follows Government’s concern over increasing cases of abuse of the “wise waters” countrywide.
The policy is the brainchild of former Health Minister Dr Timothy Stamps, who is now Health Advisor in the Office of the President and Cabinet.
Dr Stamps argued the policy is the right pathway in maintaining good health as well as protecting people against alcohol abuse.
Health and Child Care secretary Retired Brigadier-General Dr Gerald Gwinji said the proposed new rules are similar to those first mooted in 2010.
“We took the proposed new policy to the working party which comprises officials from various ministries and it passed,” he said.
“It also went to the Cabinet Committee on Social Services and Poverty Eradication and it went through. It now awaits to go to the Cabinet.
“The current one is a revised version of the 2010 draft after realising that the initial one had gaps.
“The policy is concerned with imparting behaviour change.
“Policies are there to give guidance to the general populace and various stakeholders. The reduction of alcohol abuse can be done partly through the law but the rest will be through moral suasion.”
The Sunday Mail understands that the policy proposes to bar the sale of alcohol during the week, regulate the number of hours to sell the products and provide guidelines on the consumption of alcohol during special events like parties and weddings on the basis of the venue in which they are held.
Information shows that motor vehicle drivers found with a blood alcohol concentration of above 0,08 per 100ml of blood face arrest and those found selling the product to pregnant women will also be arrested.
The policy also proposes that any alcohol advertisement should be done not less than 100 metres from a road intersection, school, clinic, hospital, church and old people’s homes.
The policy also proposes amendments to other legislation to give the police power of enforcement.
According to the 2010 document: “These regulations should cover the age of consumers, the type of retail establishments that can sell alcoholic beverages, and specific licensing to sell alcoholic beverages, with appropriate limits on hours and days of sale.
“However, informal markets are a major source of alcohol and formal controls on sale may be of less relevance until a better system of control and enforcement is in place.
“Furthermore, restrictions on availability that are too strict may promote the development of a parallel illicit market. A licensing system with fees aimed at reducing alcohol-related harms rather than primarily to generate income will reduce the likelihood of unintended consequences such as the development of an illicit market.”
The document also sought to amend the tax system to levy alcohol products in proportion to the alcoholic volume and not on the type of beverage.
Prices of alcohol products in Zimbabwe are not gazetted by Government, but are controlled by suppliers.
In 2007, the then Reserve Bank governor, Dr Gideon Gono, hiked tax on alcoholic beverages by 100 percent saying the country had been reduced into a nation of drunkards because of cheap alcohol.
According to a report by The Washington Post in 2014, Zimbabwean men and women were ranked sixth and seventh respectively on Africa’s top drinkers list.