Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I have worked in the alcohol industry for the last five years on a distributor level. that said I consider myself an expert in the industry and a concerned party.
Many years past some Government bureaucrat decided that chang'aa,a native for Kenya by Kenya alcoholic drink that can stand shoulder to shoulder with any triple distilled drink you have to offer(at least in it's pure form), well the bureaucrat decided that it should be banned.
I will not dig into his reasons for doing so or how he robbed land and country of a fine opportunity to sell maybe globally a uniquely Kenyan drink,employ hundreds if not thousands of Kenyans in the production,sale and supply stages, what I will dwell on is the aftermath of this Government decision to ban chang'aa, the production of the drink went underground, it was quite risky at first such that not many individuals invested in the industry but those that did eat from those benefits to date, chang'aa in its illegal black market form became a clear gold for its producers and I dare say the law enforcers who looked the other way. news clips of the boys in blue collecting handouts from chang'aa distributors were a not uncommon sight. The profits in the illegal chang'aa business attracted more and more players and competition became rife, to beat their competitors and make their drink more potent the traders began using commercial chemical materials in the production of the drink, such matterials include bleach and morgue chemicals used for cadaver preservation. Juju was also put into play and ladies underpants seemed like the  vodoo tool of choice, these were thrown into the already potent mix to ensure customer loyalty, soon the revelers began to loose their jobs, families, eyesight and even their lives.
Government response was always swift after the calamities, many a small trader would be arrested news reporters in tow would record a few hundred litres o chang'aa get poured(wasn't that supposed to be evidence?)
To cut a long story short and get to my point, Chang'aa has alwasy been illegal, atleast its sale and nothing written on the Mututho law is likely to change that, in fact the law has thrown the mainstream liuer industry into confusion leaving the already prime under the radar chang'aa lords and ladies loughing all the way to the bank.
Mainstream business has had its hours of operation reduced, stiffer compliances to be met, its products tax increased and its license fees trippled or even quadrupled.
this Creates a vacuum that the Lords of Chang'aa are likely to fill in a flash. It also leaves alot of Kenyans with serious investment without businesses, many more jobless and desperate. tThis industry hires the unemployable in most of the other industries, 90% of the worlkers have no more than primary level education, real people who have dedicated themselves to their jobs will now end up jobless with no way of feeding themselves or their families, that is the reality of the situation and the Government needs to act now to stop this unfolding disaster.
There is need for Government to consult stake holders, enable the players to have a functional self regulating system and work on the enforcement of its laws since that is what has been lacking all along. We also need to grow a local product for the Global market as a foreign revenue earner, the French have champagne, the Russians their vodka and we have nothing but a misguided, ill reseached document called Mututho Law..

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