WIINDHOEK, 15 JUN – The legality, regulation and health hazards posed by home-made alcohol on Wednesday created a stir in the National Assembly, with some Parliamentarians pushing for its commercialisation while others stand opposed to the idea.
The division in opinions stemmed from a motion moved by United Democratic Front Member of Parliament, Dudu Murorua in the National Assembly (NA) on Wednesday.
In the motion, he expressed concern over the conditions under which traditional liquor is brewed and sold for human consumption in townships, saying it could be hazardous for consumers.
Speaking to Nampa shortly after a heated debate in the NA, Deputy Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Tommy Nambahu, called for the control and standardisation of tradition alcohol.
Nambahu said if left unregulated, traditional alcohol poses a great threat to the health of Namibians.
“We must, as leaders, find a way for our people to be protected from the harmful effects of this thing (liquor),” he said.
Nambahu, however, acknowledged that there were some producers who have put health precautionary measures in place in their brewing.
He said a regulatory body should be established to which traditional liquor brewers can account to, adding that such substances such as battery residue (also known as potassium hydroxide), dirty clothes and other dangerous materials are used in these types of brews to boost their narcotic effects.
Agreeing with Nambahu was Popular Democratic Movement’s Vipuakuje Muharukua who said traditional alcohol was now being sold at full commercial scale and that subsequently, there was a need for it to be controlled.
He is mostly concerned with the social ills and health implications perpetuated by traditional beverages.
“We cannot have a nation that we want to build and allow the same nation to continue decaying or losing young people through death or addiction in the use of these things,” lamented Muharukua.
On the contrary, Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises, Veikko Nekundi argued both historically and scientifically in defence of traditional alcohol brews.
He said those advocating for the regulation or the ban of traditional alcohol were only interested in promoting foreign alcohol.
“Those are neo-colonial agendas to dismiss our values in order to enhance foreign agendas and knowingly consuming their products (to) sustain and grow their economies,” said Nekundi.
He said the assertions by Murorua that traditional liquor was being brewed with dirty and possibly poisonous products was farfetched.
“Parliament can’t be used as a platform to transmit neither to authenticate rumours,” Nekundi to the house.
He said Murorua’s motion could be of value if it calls for research to scientifically evaluate and understand the microbiological, biochemical and nutritional properties of traditional brews.
He said this would “assist our people (to) scientifically standardise their production processes with consistent quality output and industrialise our traditional products.”
He however stressed that whether home-made or imported, there are no positives for alcohol when abused.