Pensioners Spend Money On Alcohol

A PARLIAMENTARY committee research into the abuse of alcohol in Namibia has revealed widespread misuse of money by pensioners on liquor, different rules on the opening and closing times of shebeens and called for controls on traditional alcohol brews.

The report on the motion on alcohol abuse in Namibia was tabled in parliament by the parliamentary standing committee on human resources, social and community development.

“The misuse of social grants by elderly people has been observed within the communities due to alcohol abuse.

The situation was said to be worse at Kayirayira and Ekoka villages in Kavango and Ohangwena regions,” the report said.

According to the report, several communities have appealed to government to suspend the grants if it is proved that they are being misused on alcohol while people are facing food shortages.

“Misuse of social grants by the elderly and the disabled on alcohol has been observed in some communities,” the report said.

It recommended that the ministries responsible for distributing social grants must probe whether the money is used for its intended purpose.

The harmonisation of the Liquor Regulation of 2001 that oversees operating hours of sheebens and the by-laws of some local authorities on opening hours was found to be confusing.

According to the Windhoek municipality by-laws, shebeens can open after 08h00 on any day and may not go beyond 22h00 except when the following day is a Saturday, a Sunday or a public holiday in which case it may go up to 24h00.

The Windhoek municipality announced two years ago that there were about 1 000 illegal shebeens in the city and only 540 were operating legally.

The parliamentarians suggested that shebeen operating hours should be 10h00 to 21h00 from Monday to Thursday, 10h00 to 21h00 on Fridays, from 10h00 to 24h00 on Saturdays and from 10h00 to 20h00 on Sundays.

Attention was also given to home-made brews such as the “cheap, easily available and affordable” ‘tombo’ and ‘ombike’ which politicians want controlled, after admitting that the ingredients and volume of alcohol in those brews are not known.

The law states that someone who produces an alcoholic beverage with less than three percent alcohol content does not need a licence to do so.

“There is a g need for the law to be strengthened in order to effectively regulate the selling and consumption of such brew,” recommended the report.

The report warned against continued reliance on selling alcohol as a way of earning a living due to the high rate of unemployment and poverty.

“Most people consulted during the public hearings were of the view that factors such as boredom, poverty and mental distress caused by the lack of employment opportunities were forcing people, especially the youth, to indulge in alcohol abuse.”

Other issues highlighted in the report is the connection of alcohol abuse to crime, lack of responsible drinking habits and rehabilitation centres.

Proximity of liquor outlets to institutions such as schools and churches was also singled out as a concern.

The Namibian reported last year that a number of regions had proposed that government imposes a five-year ban on alcohol sale in Namibia in order to curb the abuse of liquor in the country, a suggestion that was confirmed by committee member Maureen Jankowski. The final report did not mention nor highlight such recommendation.

The report was tabled by committee chairperson Agnes Tjongarero and will be debated in parliament this week.

The profit made by alcohol seller Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) has continued to increase over the years. Last year they announced that their profit was at N$170 million after tax in six months. Interim results by NBL during the same period shows that revenue increased to N$1,35 billion, up from N$1,22 billion in 2012.

A 2011 World Health Organisation (WHO) report that was released at the end of last year ranked Namibia as the fifth on the African continent in terms of annual alcohol consumption with the average Namibian consuming 9,62 litres of alcohol per year.

According to that report Namibia’s favourite alcoholic drinks are beers with 67% consumption, spirits at 20%, wine at seven percent while other drinks counted for six percent.

Source : The Namibian