Minister of Local Government, Gary Nkombo has received widespread condemnation for forcing a woman and her children to the illicit local brew called Kachasu.
This follows the widely circulated video in which the Minister forced children to drink a locally brewed beer commonly known as Kachasu, as punishment on their mother for engaging in illegal brewing of the local beer.
Mr Nkombo yesterday raided the townships and destroyed litres of Kachusu that were being brewed at the time and alleged that the drink was responsible for destroying many lives.
Leading the condemnation was now Human rights Laura Miti who said that forcing a mother and her children to drink the Kachasu she brews made her heart weep.
Ms Miti acknowledged that the country has a frightening crisis of alcohol and drug abuse in the townships, and it is one that is consuming youth and women, especially and badly it needs emergency attention, and added that that attention, however, is not raids and abuse of brewers.
Mr Miti told the Minister that the substance abuse in Zambia’s communities is a symptom of the deep poverty, high unemployment and attendant hunger in the country, just as the numbers of vendors on our streets are.
“The answer is not to abuse a poor woman on camera. Humiliate her in a way you would never do to the children of the rich, who gather every weekend in fancy homes in leafy suburbs to drown their privilege, in underage binge drinking of expensive liquor and abuse of drugs,” she wrote.
Ms Miti said that the only reason that the woman was bullied and humiliated by the Minister is that she is poor and faceless and that, in this Zambia, that means she is not a full human being.
Ms Miti urged the Minister to invite these communities to discuss the crisis consuming them.
“Gather women, youth, civil society actors, church leaders, some Kachasu brewers in a community hall to come up with structural answers. Small changes like refusal to sell the brew to the 10-year olds we see totally plastered.
“If you do not know how to talk to communities, other than through a campaign microphone, invite civil society. We will facilitate it for you. You will be amazed at what you will achieve.
“Believe me, the poor can think. They can address their problems, given the respect and space, ” she concluded
Joining the condemnation is the group calling itself Advocacy for National Development and Democracy (ANDD) which has called on Local Government Minister, Garry Nkombo to resign on moral grounds.
ANDD executive director, Samuel Banda is shocked and disheartened that Mr Nkombo can go to such lengths to mistreat the mother and her children in such an inhumane manner.
He has since called on President Hakainde Hichilema to take action against the Minister with immediate effect if he will not resign on his own on moral grounds.
“Yes that could be an illegal business of brewing the illicit beer, but such treatment and embarrassment to the family are uncalled for and unwarranted” Mr Banda has observed.
He said that the government’s role is to empower citizens and not incapacitate them as was observed yesterday adding that a sober approach while looking for solutions is what the Minister should have done.
He has condemned the behaviour, with a call from all stakeholders such as the church, civil society organisations and all well-meaning citizens to equally call for justice on the matter.
“This is not about politics, but about moral obligation especially on sensitive matters that border on the welfare of the poor. Let us be sober-minded and condemn a wrong when it occurs” Mr Banda has said.