NAMIBIA MULLS REFERENDUM ON ALCOHOL ABUSE

In Namibia every week, not less than 10 people die in violence-related incidents fueled by alcohol abuse.

The worst time this year was from July 1 to 3 when 19 people died in three days.

Following the incident, police spokesperson Rauna Shikwambi advised people to avoid alcohol abuse.

On Thursday some parliamentarians also voiced great concerns over alcohol abuse in the country and called for a referendum on the matter.

The poverty eradication minister Retired Bishop Zephaniah Kameeta called for stricter measures to control alcohol use.

Most worrisome is that those abusing alcohol are the youth and the workforce. In 2014, the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs established that about 80 percent of Namibian youth aged between 14 and 15 were drinking heavily.

Another report, the Global Status of Alcohol on Health, compiled by the World Health Organization in 2014 ranked Namibia the third country with the highest number of alcohol abusers per capita in Africa.

The report says Namibian men drink an average 16.7 liters per capita, while women 5.4 liters.

In its own study done in 2015, the health ministry concluded that Namibians are also into heavy binge drinking during which they can drink up to 78 beers per week.

All the parliamentarians said the high rate of alcohol consumption poses a threat to the country's development objectives, including poverty eradication.

Kameeta said alcohol abuse was shameful, pathetic and scary,"I believe now is the hour for this parliament to make a change," Kameeta said.

Deputy lands, Bernadus Swartbooi urged the National Assembly to change the law so that alcohol abuse is contained.

"I think time has come to take a strong stance and test the reality out there and deal with the matter not in a halfhearted fashion but in a decisive manner," Swartbooi said.

Justice Minister Albert Kawana said the referendum would look at banning the operating of shebeens in residential areas.

"Under no circumstances will a license be issued to a shebeen that operates in a residential area," Kawana said, adding that the referendum will also seek opinion on abolishing potent home brews.

"The potent home brews are poisoning our people," Kawana said.

Some Namibians who cannot afford distilled beers brew their own alcohol commonly known in the country as tombo that claims lives from time to time.

At one time, six farmworkers died on the spot after drinking tombo at a farm near Grootfontein town about 460 kilometers from the capital Windhoek.

In May 2015, 14 villagers from the north of the country were rushed to hospital after drinking tombo, while cases of children whose parents feed them tombo have been reported in the country.

No date has not yet given for the referendum.

Source: Nam News Network