8 February 2018

Uganda: MPs Angry As Govt Extends Sachet Waragi Ban

Photo: Alex Esagala/Daily Monitor
Parliament in session in December 2017.

Parliament — Sections of lawmakers yesterday opposed the extension of the ban on the production of liquor in plastic bags known as sachets.

The MPs, including Kitgum Woman MP Margaret Lamwaka (NRM), Gulu Woman MP Betty Aol Ocan (FDC) and Mitooma Woman MP Jovah Kamateeka (NRM), argued that this kind of alcohol has broken the family institution.

The legislators argued that the wreckage was manifested in the abdication of family duties by drunkard men, with some failing to fulfill conjugal rights of their wives.

"Many children have dropped out of school because their fathers cannot pay school fees, but to make it worse, the men are not functioning," argued Ms Lamwaka.

In her support, Ms Aol argued that, "the families have lost their pillars, people are going completely astray. Taking the ultimatum to 2019 is a disaster to our people."

The argument followed a statement by Ms Amelia Kyambadde, the minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives on the implementation of the ban on alcoholic drinks packaged in sachets.

The minister indicated that the ban that was slated to take effect in September 2017 had been extended to March 2019.

Upe County MP Mr Kipterit Christopher Akorikimoi told Parliament that the consumption of sachet-waragi had taken away the virility of men in his constituency in Amudat district, leaving many women languishing in agony.

This, Mr Kipterit argued, was as a result of additive substances that make the liquor more powerful.

"We need to act to save the country from an ailing population fall; men are too weak as a result of consuming this waragi (liquor) and they can no longer perform," he cried out.

Meanwhile the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga sat quietly as she struggled to hold her laughter. Her teary eyes betrayed her emotions before she burst out laughing.

Many other MPs called for a total ban on the production of cheap alcohol but the speaker cautioned that a total ban would breed unemployment and crime.

However, Betty Aol argued that parliament should pay attention to the plight of its people whose lives stand at risk of intoxication rather focusing on creating employment.

She insisted that priority needs to be put on a healthy population.

"If we think we are creating employment for our youths who produce the sachets, we are killing our own population," Ms Aol said.

She further said that for this to be attained, there was need for a comprehensive undertaking. She stressed that although the production and consumption of alcohol in sachets had been outlawed through an ordinance in her district Gulu, the content was smuggled from neighboring districts.

Meanwhile, Maj Gen Pecos Kuteesa (UPDF) challenged the lawmakers on the absence of enforcement mechanisms. He argued that whereas parliament has made several recommendations, most of them remain on paper.

By close of business, the House tasked the minister to fast track the tabling of prohibitive bills related to alcohol production, use and packaging.


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