Dikgosi differ over traditional brew sale

SHARE   |   Thursday, 11 June 2020   |   By Bakang Tiro
A woman carrying traditional beer A woman carrying traditional beer

As traditional custodians of the people, Dikgosi has welcomed with divided views the decision by government to continue with ban enacted on the consumption of old-style domestic brews.

Government through the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Peggy Serame has lifted the ban on alcohol effect 1st June but the traditional alcohol beverages were locked out of plan.

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But, the decision by minister to continue her clampdown on the production of traditional drinks has rubbed some chiefs and traders the wrong way whilst some Dikgosi welcomes the interdict.

The disgruntled section believes that although alcohol consumption in general leads to immoral acts as well as source of life for some, traditional brewers should be given green light as well.

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In an interview with one Kgosi who is also the member of Ntlo ya Dikgosi said government is not fair to lift the ban on modern alcohol drinks thus disadvantaging the native merchants.

“Some of our society members depend heavy on the traditional alcohol beverages such as our recognized know traditional beer to survive. I also appreciate that there are some traditional alcohol that are not allowed but government should license for recognized beers,” a chief said.

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The furious Kgosi who preferred condition of anonymity said the traditional alcohol which is normally used as symbol of thanks to ancestors and God is compromised as dikgafela nears.

He however, said government didn’t just neglect the customary beer producers as Serame said government will consult with traditional leaders for three months before reestablishing its sale.

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Kgosi Gaabalwe Seretse of Pilikwe village in central district said although the economic value proposition of traditional beer for some homesteads cannot be undermined, the possible ideas behind government decision to lengthen its suspension could be worries over social distancing.

Kgosi Seretse buttressed that financial stability of families even in his village has been highly affected due to the suspension in alcohol sales but said health rules should also be a priority.

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“This issue of continuing ban on traditional beer has been received with mixed emotions. My approach to the burning issue is two sided because this is also a business to someone as well like to a person owning a bar. Government on the other side could have considered that where there is traditional drinking such as khadi people gather due to beer socializing aspect,” he said.

Moreover, he said although there has been alcohol ban for both modern and traditional sales, the lockdown presented opportunities for more surge for other developed traditional drinks.

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He revealed that there was spike of setopoti beverage in Pilikwe and other villages in Ga Mmangwato produced from watermelons and consumed mostly at cattle posts and lands.

Public outrage

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Traditional beer producers conveyed dissatisfaction on the government’s decision to extend lockdown on their source of revenue stream pushing Dikgosi to intervene to save their lives.

The makers indicate that like any other business or household have been also affected by the lockdown noting that they heavily rely of brews such as khadi to earn income on daily basis.

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In an interview with one of prominent producers of traditional related beverage in Tlokweng said her business is braced for collapse as she has been relying on foreign truck drivers to buy.

“The lockdown affected my alcohol business which it helped me a lot to sustain myself plus my husband who is not working and staying at the cattle post. Lifting ban on other sector of liquor and leaving us old-style makers is not fair, we won’t survive another three months,” she said.

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Reform traditional whisky

As COVID-19 has presented opportunities for doing of business and way of existing, traditional leaders calls traditional beer manufacturers to also transform the way of selling their products.

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Kgosi Seretse hinted that if the sellers could also tap into packaging in a presentable manner their beers, it was going to be easier for them to sell as compared to how they sell currently.

“ There has been notions that homemade alcohol is sold by old women but in this present days it is no longer the case as young people are also in business to sustain themselves hence they could refresh the traditional beers by being innovative to be attractive like chibuku,” he said.

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The Minister of trade Peggy Serame while lifting ban on alcohol consumption said alcohol will be only sold four days in a week from Wednesday to Saturday but only for home consumption. Government, she said, will also undertake a three-month consultation with traditional leaders before reintroducing sales of traditional beer so as to allow formulation of fresh regulations.

Efforts to reach Chairman of Ntlo ya Dikgosi Kgosi Puso Gaborone proved were unsuccessful.

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