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Some Zimbabweans Dismiss Presidential Health Advisers Initiative on Alcohol

Observers said alcohol abuse in Zimbabwe has not reached levels that warrant the promulgation of the new National Alcohol Policy proposed by former Health Minister Timothy Stamps, an adviser to President Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwean social commentators have dismissed proposals by Timothy Stamps, a former health minister and now an adviser on health to President Robert Mugabe, to toughen up the country's alcohol sales and use laws, saying abuse of alcohol has not reached levels that warrant the promulgation of a new national policy on drinking.

They said Stamps should direct his energies toward fixing the national health system, still recovering from a decade of decline that led to its virtual collapse in late 2008 and early 2009 as the economy imploded.

Stamps has proposed to limit alcohol sales to the hours of 6 am to 7 pm Monday to Saturday with counters closing at noon on Sunday. His proposal also calls for a ban on the sale of alcohol to pregnant women and teens.

Social commentator Zifiso Masiye told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that Stamps is mistaken in his premise that Zimbabweans have a drinking problem. “The country has been experiencing a lot of problems in the past 10 years but not alcohol abuse as perhaps being wrongly interpreted by Stamps,” said Masiye.

Spokesman Useni Sibanda of the Christian Alliance of Zimbabwe said that while Stamps’ proposals are welcome, the president’s adviser should be concentrating on the country's still-rickety public health care system.