Gov’t to decide Power Shake's fate

Traditional bear
Traditional bear

With the prevalence of consumption of adulterated illicit brews in Botswana, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has revealed that it will conduct extensive consultations to decide whether or not to ban the popular traditional beer, Power Shake.

Responding to a question in Ntlo Ya Dikgosi recently, assistant minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Setlhabelo Modukanele said the Ministry of Trade and Industry will consult with the relevant stakeholders being manufacturers and distributors of such products.

Kgosi Gobuamang of the Thamaga region had asked the minister of Trade and Industry if he will consider banning the sale of Power Shake which is used in brewing illegal traditional beer which is detrimental to the health of communities.

Power Shake dry beer also called beer powder or instant beer (malt mixed with yeast) is made potable by adding water. It is mostly prepared by shebeen operators who turn it into potable beer. This dry beer is packaged into bags that make up two litres of beer. The beer matures within 24 hours and can be kept for 100 hours.

Speaking on behalf of Trade and Industry Minister, Mmusi Kgafela, Modukanele said the ministry is aware of momela that is being sold by some retailers. “Momela is used for making mukuru, which is one of the declared traditional beers allowed to be sold from home, therefore, any other ingredient purported for brewing traditional beer which is not listed amongst the five declared traditional beers as stipulated in the traditional beer regulations is illegal and not allowed to be sold from homes,” he said.

Modukanele admitted that it is a possibility that some of the powders being used for making traditional beer are attributed to making adulterated beer and sold at homes. He added that the Ministry of Trade and Industry is in the process of reviewing the Liquor Act and its subsidiary legislation which includes the traditional beer regulations.

“Consultations are ongoing,” he emphasised. Illicit brews have been in the limelight for several decades not only because of the danger they pose to consumers but also because of the families of consumers and society at large. Curbing its production, consumption, and sale has been a huge task. The COVID-19 pandemic, eventual lockdowns, and alcohol ban brought about the rampancy of illicit brews. The police were kept on their toes during the time as the ban gave rise to criminal syndicates in the illicit brew trade.

Besides the lockdown periods between 2020 and 2021, illicit brews due to their negative impacts, death, and addiction, date back to pre-independence. Illicit traditional beer has been a component cause of diseases and injury in individuals and notably alcohol dependence.

Due to their danger when consumed, these brews have attained various ominous Setswana names like Tipi Ya Mokwata, Laela Mmaago, Mokoko 'Ntshebile, O Lala Fa, Chechisa, Monna-tota, and Motse O Teng Godimo.

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