Villagers under Chief Mbudzi told Radio VOP recently that the police had banned the sale of the popular home-made brew under the disguise of nipping crime in the bud, dealing them a major blow to one of their biggest income generating ventures.
“If you want to brew your beer, you have to apply to the police for clearance as they say they want to monitor the situation when people are drinking the beer. Yet very few people want to drink under watch.
“Yet in this drought stricken area, selling the beer is our source of income for raising school fees and food,” said a villager who requested anonymity for fear of retribution.
Bikita is a stronghold of the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, where all constituencies were grabbed from the former ruling Zanu (PF) party parliamentarians.
Other villagers said anyone found harbouring the drinkers at their house is arrested or their brew is confiscated, thereby making great loses.
“At one time, I was ordered to spill all my beer on the ground when I was found with some drinkers at my place. I will not forget such an incident, it was hard for me to accept, but they threatened to beat me up if I refused,” said another villager.
Although Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Tinaye Matake refused to comment on the matter, referring all questions to the police headquarters in Harare.
“We did not ban as such, but we are monitoring the functions because it is where many crimes are committed when the people are drunk,” said one police officer who refused to be identified. “There is an increase in assault and rape cases here, so we want to stem the crimes. If the figures drop, then we will relax such conditions,” said the top cop.
MP for the area, Jani Vharandeni, said he had heard about the matter, but was going to investigate to get more details.