Drug usage up as beer price soars

HARARE - Mereki shopping centre, a popular spot for revellers in the working class suburb of Warren Park in Harare, is unusually quiet for a Friday night.
In fact, the place looks virtually deserted. The few people, all seem to be nursing the very first pints of beer they bought since arriving

here almost an hour ago.
On a “normal” Friday night, Mereki shopping centre would have been teeming with people seeking a temporary escape from Zimbabwe’s severe six-year old economic crisis.
But a shock hike in the price of beer announced by the Zimbabwean government last month has virtually emptied most nightspots, including those at Mereki, of revellers.
A pint of beer now costs a cool Z$220 000 (Z$220 new money) up from $150 000 it used to cost last month.
“Business has been very low over the past three weeks. We have had very few
sales since the latest round of price increases. Previously, people would get used to the new prices after about three days and they start flocking back to the pubs, but not this time round,” said Peter Sandiresi, a barman.
Marijuana, known in Shona as mbanje, and a local brew known as kachasu and which is banned under the law, are now in vogue, because they are not only cheap but pack a potent kick.
Sandiresi said bar owners at Mereki have also recorded high sales on spirits, popularly known in Harare’s street lingo as the “take me quick”. The bitter and cheap spirits all have one thing in common – an excessively high alcohol content.
Police in Harare recently arrested three people for possessing 30 kg of marijuana with an estimated street value of Z$3billion ($3 million new money).
The three confessed that they had acquired the drug from Mozambique for sale in the suburb where they already had a loyal base of customers. – ZimOnline

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