Zambian Breweries and the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to curb alcohol and drug abuse.
The agreement was signed at the Zambian Breweries Mungwi Road plant last week by Country Director Jose Moran and DEC Deputy Commissioner Kelvin Silwimba.
Speaking at the event, Mr Moran said the cooperation between Zambian Breweries and the DEC presented opportunities to combine the strengths of both parties through their footprint and outreach into smallholders markets, and cement a solid commercial and regulatory relationship.
He said the MOU was in line with Zambian Breweries’ Responsible Alcohol Policy on alcohol abuse and prohibition of underage drinking. He noted that the MOU would also help reduce the sale of potent and harmful tujilijili and junta sold at prices as low as K5, especially to underage youth.
“Alcohol abuse and underage drinking remain prominent in our communities. Here at Zambian Breweries, we believe in bringing people together for better communities. This is why I’m happy we have created a partnership with the Commission to fight alcohol abuse especially among the youth,” he said.
He also appealed to the media to join Zambian Breweries in relaying the message of responsible alcohol consumption.
Corporate affairs director Ezekiel Sekele said the MOU would see the company develop strategies to promote responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages, youth sensitisation and discouraging youths from underage drinking.
It underlined Zambian Breweries’ support of the National Alcohol Policy and its responsibility as a brewer, he added.
“Zambian Breweries highly values partnerships and strategies aimed at lessening the harmful use of alcohol, especially among the youth. We will continue educating and sensitising the youths on the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse,” he said.
The DEC Commissioner Alita Mbahwe, in a speech read on her behalf by the DEC Deputy Commissioner, said she was delighted that Zambian Breweries was committed to curbing illicit alcohol abuse and agreed the MOU was a step in the right direction.
She further noted that the interaction was in line with the model in the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) to move away from a standalone thematic approach to addressing national issues towards an integrated multi-sectoral approach. DEC will support initiatives and partnerships aimed at curbing the vice and that other corporate entities must join Zambian Breweries’ noble cause.
She also said signing the MOU came at an opportune time, as there had been an increase in cases of mental health issues between the ages of 12 and 35 years attributed to alcohol abuse.
“As a Commission, we will partner with Zambian Breweries in creating strategies aimed at reducing illicit drug abuse and underage drinking,” she said.
“It is clear that the problem of drugs, substance and alcohol abuse is on the rise in Zambia. The Commission noted an increase in the number of persons seeking counselling services from 607 in 2016 to 704 clients in 2017,”
“I am delighted we will work hand-in-hand with Zambian Breweries in creating awareness and sensitization programmes, knowledge management and reporting purposes as well as feedback arising from monitoring and evaluation of field activities,” she added.
Witnessing the event, Lusaka City Council director of public health Edgar Mulwanda expressed positivity about the partnership between ZB and DEC and said the MOU will yield positive results.
He said there is also need to increase sensitisation among consumers, as they are key in bringing alcohol and substance abuse to a halt through self-regulation.