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The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance in Zimbabwe (SAAPA ZW) is deeply concerned about the video circulating on social media showing minors consuming alcohol in the streets of Harare on Christmas day.
“This is a grave violation of the Liquor Act [Chapter 14:12], which regulates the trade in liquor in the country. We are appalled by the lack of enforcement of the Liquor Act, which establishes a Liquor Licensing Board and confers powers and functions on various officers in relation to licences and permits to sell liquor. We are also alarmed by the proliferation of alcohol outlets in Harare, especially in residential areas, which make alcohol easily accessible to minors and vulnerable groups,” SAAPA ZW said in a statement yesterday.
It said that Zimbabwe has the highest number of 15 to 19-year-olds in Africa who engage in heavy “episodic drinking”, at 70.7 percent among males and 55.5 percent among females, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) report. This is a serious public health and social issue that needs urgent action.
A study conducted in 2002 predicted that by 2022, alcoholism will be Zimbabwe’s number-one social problem. The country is already witnessing the devastating effects of alcohol abuse on society, such as increased crime, violence, accidents, poverty, and mental health problems.
“We call on the authorities to take swift action and enforce the Liquor Act. We demand the authorities to uphold the law and punish the offenders. We also urge the authorities to implement a comprehensive alcohol policy in Zimbabwe to prevent and reduce alcohol harm among minors and the general population.
“We appeal to the parents, guardians, teachers, religious leaders, and community members to play their role in educating and protecting our children from alcohol harm. We also encourage the media to raise awareness and report responsibly on the issue of alcohol abuse. We believe that together, we can create a safer and healthier environment for our children and our nation,” SAAPA ZW added.