Gender Gender

Bill to regulate beer consumption

Children’s Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
A FEW weeks ago, driving home, I was frantically flagged down by a boy of about 12 years who was carrying what looked like a heavy card-board box. I immediately stopped and gave him a lift and especially that it was late in the afternoon.
Out of curiosity, I asked what he was carrying; he explained that he had gone to collect alcohol for his grandmother from one of the suppliers within the area. On further questioning if he actually went to buy alcohol, the boy explained that his grandmother had already paid for it; he was merely sent to collect the box for her. I was surprised to learn that a supplier could knowingly allow a child to collect alcohol when the transaction was between him and the boy’s grandmother. I then asked him if he had ever consumed alcohol, the boy quickly answered in the negative. He went on to explain that he is usually sent to pick up his grandmother’s supplies because she is unable to walk long distances.
A week later, I was disappointed to learn that the boy had broken into two cars within the neighbourhood with the intention of stealing and that he had been handed over to the police where he was detained for a day. The boy is alleged to have broken into the cars after he had consumed some alcohol.
His behaviour is but one of the negative consequences most communities are confronted that are related with alcohol consumption because there is no age restrictions as who can access it. Sadly, alcohol is readily available for anyone and from anywhere as long as one has money to buy it. Other vices that are on the increase which can be attributed to alcohol abuse include: various forms of infanticide, violence, prostitution, rowdy and aggressive behaviour.
With such lawlessness even from pre-teen children, Government deserves to be commended for its intention to introduce the Alcohol Bill as a control measure against the increased levels of consumption particularly amongst young people who are most vulnerable.
In March, Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili said that once the bill is enacted, it will regulate alcohol consumption. This is because Government was concerned about increasing levels of alcohol abuse especially by young people.
Reverend Sumaili noted that alcohol is unproductive because it devastates homes and retards national development especially where consumption is not regulated. For instance, one is left to wonder what the future holds for the boy who is already abusing alcohol and getting detained before he is even a teenager.
She stressed that Government will work closely with other stakeholders to promote good values and morals that are critical in fostering national development and in upholding the values and principles as enriched in the Constitution.
Stakeholders should include people like the boy’s grandmother and supplier. It is through such errands that some children out of curiosity begin to consume alcohol because it is exposed to them.
The decision to enact the Alcohol Bill was in line with President Lungu’s concern at the high levels of alcohol and substance abuse which has contributed to moral decay among young people. Earlier this year, the President stressed the need to promote values and moral by all well-meaning Zambians.
Remember, children are our future, until next week, take care.
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