ZB hails local authority for crackdown on underage drinkers, unlicensed bars

The past few weeks has seen an increase in patrols by local authorities and police officers leading to the consequent arrests of underage patrons found at drinking places or bars.In reaction to this, Zambian Breweries being one of the major producers of alcoholic beverages has hailed the local authorities for mounting crack downs on unlicensed beer outlets and those serving alcoholic beverages to persons under the legal drinking age.

Zambian Breweries Corporate Affairs Director, Chibamba Kanyama said in a statement that Zambian Breweries has, in the past, consistently noted with dismay and condemned the indiscriminate sale of alcoholic drinks at open markets and by several unlicensed traders because the company realises that this gives minors access to alcohol.Zambian Breweries has been running vigorous campaigns discouraging drunk driving, under-age drinking and irresponsible consumption for over five years now.

The company has also been working with various stakeholders such as councils, NGOs and the Government to find common ground on issues of alcohol.

“It is a well-known fact that alcohol has been responsibly enjoyed by millions of people for millions of years, but it’s this small group of individuals that abuse alcohol and bring problems for everybody else.

We have always emphasised to our business partners such as outlet owners to ensure that they do not allow minors on their premises,” Kanyama said.

Kanyama says the alcohol abuse is a reflection of the lapses of the current youth empowerment.

“The alcohol abuse among Zambia’s young people should be a wake-up call for government to redefine the effectiveness of the current youth empowerment programmes and job creation policies,” he said.

“Joblessness and lack of engagement into economic activities among the young people of Zambia should be deemed as a time bomb.”

Kanyama says the high unemployment levels in urban areas have fuelled alcohol abuse by the youth.

“Hundreds of thousands of youths are roaming the streets. The majority are in urban areas where the potential for alcohol abuse, crime and prostitution is high,” he said.

Kanyama says the rural youths were also vulnerable due to lack of economic activities. “Those in rural areas have no meaningful ventures that will support their economic goals. Agriculture at the moment has subsistent empowering capacity and the existing structures of financial, technical and marketing support have not adequately and profitably converted those rural energies into desirable wealth and incomes,” he said.

Kanyama further said: “The absorption capacity by industry in terms of jobs created is lower than the number of graduates and school leavers looking for employment.”

He says developing capacity in vocational training centres can help curb the trend.

“There is need to develop capacity in vocational training centres countrywide. These centres are currently under-funded. In addition, the skills offered currently do not meet the minimum standards for competitive enterprise,” Kanyama said.

He called for the Zambia Development Agency to incorporate the businesses that are operated by youths into the business-linkages programme.

“Young entrepreneurs will be able to produce goods that will be supplied to large corporate entities such as mining companies and manufacturers,” Kanyama said.

And a local nongovernmental organisation CUTS international has chorused the sentiments of various stakeholders over increased alcohol abuse.

“As a non-governmental organisation dealing in public interest issues, CUTS International wishes to remind the young people engaged in this practice that consuming alcohol at such an early age has the possibility of disturbing one’s school life as most of these young people are in school,” says Angela Mulenga the centre coordinator.

Mulenga urges bar owners to stick to the law.“We would also like to urge all bar owners and retailers to abide by the law by not selling alcohol to underage children.

Bar owners and retailers who do not abide by this should face the wrath of the law as this is an offence,” she says.

Mulenga has called for the enforcement of the law.

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