The tough regulations contained in the National Alcohol Policy that were first unveiled last year by The Standard will have far-reaching effects on the sale of beer and the thriving leisure industry.
Timothy Stamps, a health advisor to President Robert Mugabe who is behind the policy last week revealed that it was now closer to becoming law after it was forwarded to Cabinet.
But the former Health and Child Welfare minister said the new regulations were not new but government wanted to ensure that they were properly enforced.
“There is a misconception that government will introduce a new law,” Stamps said.
“The law has always been there but was being loosely applied, mainly because of lack of personnel in the liquor department.Again, regarding times, we will be controlling retail licences and not people with proper liquor licences.”
Among other controls proposed under the National Alcoholic Policy being spearheaded is the confinement of the sale of alcoholic drinks to between 6am and 7pm and the banning of beer selling after midday on Sundays.
Also to be banned is the selling of alcoholic beverages to visibly pregnant women, people who are deemed to be already drunk and minors.
Proper advertising is also to be encouraged, with Stamps saying a workshop for advertisers of alcoholic beverages was slated for the end of September.
“We are simply bringing together all the laws that have something to do with alcohol so they can work properly to protect the young and those who react badly to alcohol,” Stamps said. “We involved manufacturers at the ground level and they are all agreeable to the new measures because we all want to protect the health of our nation.”
The alcohol industry is important to Zimbabwe’s economy and at one time it was reported that taxes on beer and cigarettes were holding up the economy.
Delta Beverages, the largest brewer in the country, is one of Zimbabwe’s biggest employers. nHowever, Stamps said the proposed regulations were not meant to punish industry players or make life difficult for ordinary Zimbabweans.
“As a doctor, I know that alcohol is no ordinary food and taking it in excess can have serious repercussions,” he said. “Alcohol taken in excess has caused deaths of people and many would remember the story of former South African Health minister Tshabalala Msimang who died two years ago because alcohol badly affected her liver.”