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MBABANE – Beer destruction. About 224 000 bottles of beer sitting in the warehouse of Eswatini beverages will, anytime from now, be destroyed due to the ongoing partial lockdown.

Liquor is among non-essential products that government decided to suspend, especially its production and distribution. The suspension on the production of liquor was effected in April 8, 2020.

The booze, according to calculations where each unit of bottle is charged at E17.00, is worth over E3.8 million in cash. It has been gathered that the bottles that have expired include Sibebe Premium Lager, Castle, Hansa, Castle lite, Castle Milk Stout, Black label and Lion lager. Other brands that will undergo the decanting process include Reds, Flying Fish and Smirnoff brands such as Pine Twist and Smirnoff Spin.

stock is enough

In fact, the company says currently it has around 76 000 litres of beer in its storeroom that has lost its shelf life. This stock is enough to be distributed to all the liquor trading outlets in the Kingdom of Eswatini and that can restore the alcohol shortage in just a few days.

On Friday, a crowd of imbibers crammed Solani’s in Mbabane to stock up after the entertainment spot had an impromptu sale of alcohol beverages. Prior to the Solani’s liquor sale, a similar sale was held in Matsapha at a liquor shop owned by businessman Tommy Kirk.

The Times  Sunday has also learnt that the shortage in alcohol stock in the country has resulted in some people crossing via informal crossing points to stock up in Mozambique. Again, alcohol lovers have started to produce homemade brew.

Mpumelelo Makhubu, Eswatini Beverages Head of Legal and Corporate Affairs officer said for the past 40 days without sales or distribution of beer, the stock has aged.

He said though the company was engaged on a consultation exercise with government, the company would have to decant all the stock that has aged in shelves.
clear process in place
“We have a clear process in place on how aged alcohol is destroyed,” he said. He said the company would adhere to those processes and that with the ongoing partial lockdown more stock is aging,” he said.

Bongani Mdluli, Chairman of the Swaziland Consumer Association, said it was up to government to balance the equation in the issue of stock being destroyed.
“Our stand is that if the brewery company has an expired stock, that stock should be destroyed. This is to avoid  people from  consuming it,” he said.

He said government should consider that companies had risk policies that, if applied, could lead to job losses as the companies might be forced to retrench its staff. Meanwhile, in South Africa, the South African Breweries (SAB) have said that they were left with no choice but to dump over 130 million litres of beer that it can’t bottle due to lockdown regulations preventing them from running their supply chain. SAB has revealed that the stock to be destroyed is around 400 million bottles.

suspension of business
According to an article published by the www.southafrican.com, the waste of product and suspension of business could cost the liquor company an estimated R150 million, with nearly 2 000 jobs at risk.

Meanwhile, Mduduzi Gina, Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) recently told this publication that liquor was not a basic commodity, hence it doesn’t fall under essential items.

He said, “it is not a must-have in a person’s life, it’s more of a nice to have commodity.”
Gina explained that allowing the production of alcohol to continue under the circumstances brought by COVID – 19 may give a wrong impression.

“We understand that the regulations as announced by the ministry of Commerce had permitted the sale of liquor in bottle stores, clearly in our view that was intended to assist the bottle stores to finish their already stocked products. Now that only essential enterprises are permitted to operate, it goes without saying that the sale of liquor has also been prohibited as indeed it’s not an essential commodity and cannot be classified under the food category,” he said.

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