Proposed alcohol ban will simply breed a new kind of ‘criminal’

According to a state paper Zimbabwe’s government will implement a National Alcohol Policy that will see strict regulation on the sale of alcohol.

This will apparently see alcohol sale banned on week days, regulated at parties and weddings, among a raft of measures to force Zimbabweans to drink less.

Now for the teetotalers, hypochondriacs and morality police this looks like a good idea.

Also we are largely at risk of becoming a nation of alcoholics.

But prohibition is not and has never been the answer anywhere.

Without even going back to the US version that resulted in the creation of a hardcore mafia style syndicate of underground dealers in the drink, but in Gujarat it has failed because of the lack of public faith in the policy.

Public faith is the most important and government is already struggling with some of that  based in some of its policies. What that means is citizens will now use this as a new rallying point of resistance against the state. It will create a new ‘criminal’, a person who is considered normal in most moderate states across the world. That person will all of a sudden criminalised by the state.

It has ushered in a new industry of bootleggers. This alcohol will not be controlled by government, so its quality will not ensure the safety of its citizens. That endangers public safety and giving the example of Gujarat again, in 2009, 136 people died due to alcohol poisoning after consuming bootlegged liquor.

And in that industry of bootleggers, of course comes the rise in corruption already endemic. The current alcohol laws are already poorly policed with so many leakages – read corruption –  it’s poor to think one can see this working to create a better society. Night spots operate past a certain time because slipping an inspector a USD20 for an extra hour past their license makes them look the other way.

Again, in Gujarat, if you pay the right bribe you can get away with drinking as much as you like any time you want. In effect in one area, police were the ones selling the banned liquor. And the state was not getting any taxes from these transactions.

Then there is the loss of jobs in the liquor industry which resulted in the Indian state of Haryana abandoning its policy. Remember that bootlegged alcohol will now need to be smuggled in through our porous borders meaning whatever legal revenue that was coming from the industry suddenly disappears off the books. And those jobs that were employed locally in the liquor industry are of course exported to other countries.

And finally, this law forgets about tourists, who do not come here, to have a chill out. They want that tipple and to be told that they can only drink on certain days, well they will just toddle off to South Africa or Zambia won’t they?

Whoever thinks this is a good idea at this point, can’t be remotely smart. They clearly don’t think there are more pressing things to worry about.