BULAWAYO residents spent almost $5,5 million on Chibuku opaque beer in nine months from April to December 2014, a phenomenal figure for a city reeling in unemployment and disinvestment.
This means Bulawayo residents spent a whopping $606 122 a month on Chibuku alone.
Taking into consideration the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency figures that Bulawayo has a population of 650 000, this means on average, each person, including children, spent almost $1 a month on Chibuku.
This figure does not include people who drank Ingwebu, clear beer or spirits.
Delta revealed that consumption of Chibuku went up by a massive 400% compared to the corresponding period a year before.
On the other hand, Delta believes they can sell more Chibuku in Bulawayo, their only handicap is that the council does not allow them to sell their opaque beer in beer halls, where only Ingwebu is sold.
It could not be ascertained how much Ingwebu is sold in Bulawayo, because unlike Delta, they do not have to remit 3% to the city council, as the local authority owns the company.
According to the country’s laws, opaque beer producers should remit 3% of the sales to local authorities where the product is sold and Delta, brewers of Chibuku, gave Bulawayo City Council $163 653 for
April to December, meaning residents bought beer worth $5,45 million during that period.
This was revealed in the city’s council minutes, which reported that $163 653,48 was received from Chibuku as levy for traditional beer sold in areas under the local authority.
In terms of the Traditional Beer Act chapter 14:24 section 11, brewers are expected to pay a 3% beer levy to a local authority for traditional beer sold in an area under the jurisdiction of that authority.
“So far, amounts received amounted to $163 653,48,” read the council minutes.
The report noted that council was yet to reconcile schedules to establish if Chibuku breweries had remitted all amounts.
Delta beverages company secretary Alex Makamure clarified the records.
“Our records indicate that we have paid $162 309 for the period April 2014 to December 2014,” he told Southern Eye.
“This was a four-fold increase on our fiscal year ended March 2014 due to the increase in the sales of higher value Chibuku Super and significant gains share in that market versus competitors.”
It could not be immediately ascertained how much Chibuku remitted to other councils throughout the country.
A 2002 World Health Organisation study Drug Use, Abuse and Alcoholism in Zimbabwe, which argued that alcoholism was one of Zimbabwe’s four top diseases, sounds accurate.
The paper said at least one in four people in Zimbabwe was an alcoholic and projected that in the next 20 years (2022), alcoholism would be the country’s number one social problem.
Former Health minister Timothy Stamps was roundly criticised when he proposed measures to deal with alcohol sale to curb abuse.
Bulawayo, once an industrial hub, has been hard hit by the closure of manufacturing firms and unemployed youths are reportedly the highest consumers of alcohol in a bid to drown their sorrows.
In the past, the media has focused on the abuse of illicit alcohol brands by youths, but drinking seems to be a favourite pastime in the city, if the hefty Chibuku remittances are anything to go by.