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  ‘It’ll kill me’: Zimbabwe counts cost of rise in illicit alcohol use
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Last EditedIndyGeorgia  Sep 30, 2021 10:30am
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AuthorNyasha Chingono
News DateMonday, September 27, 2021 08:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionIt is 7pm and inside the shebeen, or unlicensed bar, in Harare, men and women clutch small bottles of “whisky” and talk animatedly as they dance to loud music.

One man staggers and falls over, to the amusement of other drinkers. He mumbles inaudible words as he drifts into sleep. Nearby, two other men doze after spending hours in the bar on a sweltering September day.

A group of drinkers erupt into laughter as their young friend soils himself. “He does this all this time. The young boy is a bad drinker,” one says.

This popular shebeen in Mabvuku, east of central Harare, serves up cheap booze and big profits for the manager, Wellington Musema*.

“I sell close to 12 cartons [144 bottles] of whisky every day,” he says. “I make a lot of money.”

But most of the alcohol on sale is illegal. Bottles of potent moonshine brews, sold under the guise of whisky, gin and vodka, have flooded Zimbabwe over the past few years.

Known by street names such as musombodia, kachasu or tumbwa, the drinks are made by mixing ethanol or methanol with a brownish colouring. Illegal distillers dilute it with water to reduce the alcohol content. The liquid is then packaged as a legitimate bottle of spirits, complete with imitation labels for brands such as Jameson Irish whiskey, Two Keys and Four Cousins. Even more illicit whisky known as Soldier is sold in plastic sachets.

For 50 US cents (36p), drinkers can buy a 200ml bottle of very strong fake whisky. For US$5 (£3.60), they can buy 12 bottles.
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