Suspension of the sale of alcoholic beverages has led to a rise in the rapidly growing trade in illegal alcohol, The Business Weekly & Review has established.
The fourth ban on alcohol has given risen to black market players to fill the gap caused by the absence of the legal trade, thus defeating the government‘s purpose of fighting the COVID-19 with enforced sobriety.
The Botswana Police Service (BPS) has confirmed that illicit alcohol sourced from neighbouring countries, mainly Zimbabwe, is circulating in Botswana. “Some of the stuff is sometimes found abandoned along the border and some jumpers are caught red-handed along the border,” BPS Public Relations Officer, Assistant Commissioner Dipheko Motube, told this publication .
Dipheko said because the black market is unregulated, it is almost impossible to quantify the amount of alcohol that is being smuggled into the country
The Botswana Alcohol Industry Association (BAIA) blames the “unfair” ban for fuelling the smuggling of alcohol and that it is difficult to verify if the contraband is genuine or counterfeit. The organization has warned that counterfeit goods have no guarantee of safety because even genuine goods may be tampered with by ruthless smugglers to maximize profits at the expense of consumer safety in a situation where there can be no redress for consumers.
According to BAIA spokesperson Jacob Sesinyi, the illicit alcohol trade affects a myriad of stakeholders with government suffering the biggest losses in much-needed revenue, particularly in the present circumstances where there is a dire need for funds to help in the fight against COVID – 19 , and secondly it deprives legitimate businesses from making a living , all the way from the smallest trader to the largest trade and everyone in the extensive value chain that the alcohol industry provides while also fueling crime in terms of the criminal syndicates that run the alcohol black market .
Sesinyi says BAIA is engaging with the government to highlight the impact of the numerous alcohol bans on the industry and the unintended side effects of increased smuggling.
The illicit alcohol trade affects a myriad of stakeholders with government suffering the biggest losses in terms of much needed revenue, particularly given the current circumstances where there is a dire need for funds to help in the fight against COVID-19. It also deprives legitimate businesses in the extensive value of the alcohol industry from making a living and fuels crime in the emergence of the criminal syndicates that run the alcohol black market.