Local brews now beyond the reach of many local imbibers.
MUTARE – The high cost of local beer in Zimbabwe, spurred by the weakening of the local Rtgs currency against the USD$ is fuelling the smuggling of cheaper but highly toxic Mozambican brews, a survey by African Voice Global has indicated.
Most local imbibers who can no longer afford locally brewed beers have now resorted to Mozambique smuggled whiskies which have high alcohol content commonly known as “take me quick or simbi” by youths.
The commonly known smuggled illegal brews are Zed and Cane spirit popularly known as “kamured barret” because of the colour of the lid.
The name is derived from red beret worn by military police officers.
Ever since government devalued the local RTGS currency against the greenback, prices of beers shot up the roof leaving most imbimbers without any option but to turn to illegal cheap foreign brews.
However, the situation has come as a blessing in disguise to unemployed youths who are taking advantage of the situation to cross into Mozambique and smuggle the beers through illegal entry points.
It is enough to make someone to be drunk for the rest of the day.
A 250 mls of Zed or kamusoja is being sold for around 3 to 4 rgts (USD$1) and it contains over 44 percent alcohol content.
Local beers contain five percent alcohol content while whiskies are around 40 or less.
Local beers are now going for as ZWL$3.50 for a 340ml whilst one has to part withZWL $9 for a quart (750ml).
While the majority of Zimbabweans are earning less than ZWL$300 it has become impossible for local imbibers to spare a few dollars to buy wise waters to drown their sorrows after a day of hard work.
“We are poor and we can’t afford decent brands. We have resorted to illegal brews. They are affordable and they take you quiclkly,”said Misheck Murapa, 25, of Sakubva high density suburbs.
Tatenda Bwawo of Maonde weighed in, saying “The situation is tough my brother. We can’t afford to buy locally brewed beer because the prices are beyond the reach of many. We know Zed or Moza spirits are not good for our health but we have no choice”.
He said he can rake ZWL$70 (US$15) every day from the sales.
However those who are selling the beer said they have every reason to celebrate as the situation has created employment for them.
“We are working with a syndicate in Mozambicue.They give us the stuff at half price and buy in bulk and smuggle via porous areas into the country. We can’t complain the profit margin is not big but I can afford to put food on the table for my family,” said one smuggler who declined to be named for fear of victimization.
He said they have also to greasy the palms of the security details patrolling the porous border.
He said he knew that the beers were a serious health hazard to local community but lack of employment and economic challenges were pushing him into inhumane activities.
Although the Mozambican brews seem to be gaining popularity amongst unemployed youths and imbibers, health expert said they have serious health effects.
They said such beers can severely damage livers and kidneys and cause diseases such as ulcers and memory loss.
Beverage manufacturer, Delta Corporation recently said volumes in both its lager and sorghum businesses in the fourth quarter ended March this year declined on weak consumer spending.
Delta said the lager volume declined 3 percent in comparison to prior year for the quarter and is up 31 percent for the full year.
“Demand has reduced due to increase in RTGS$ wholesale and retail prices. The company said it was concerned about its ability to access foreign currency in order to meet its external obligations.