CURRENT price increases on goods and services in the country have forced most drinkers in Harare to alter their imbibing habits as their favourite beverages have now been priced beyond affordability.
A recent survey in parts of Harare by NewZimbabwe.com has shown that most bars which used to enjoy descent numbers of revellers are now too quick to be deserted as clients run out of pocket faster than before.
Just like all other products, both local and imported beer has not been spared by the steep price hike blamed on government’s recent financial policy measures and a galloping black market US dollar exchange rate.
Local lagers, which could be obtainable at $1 a pint over the counter, are now calling for $3 for the same quantity.
At some bars, imported lagers now cost between $4 and $7 depending on the day and a bottle of 4th Street wine is going for $20 with ciders such as Smirnoff going for $5.
Modi’s Wholesalers Liquor Centre, owned by Zanu Pf MP and Industry Deputy Minister Raji Modi in Bulawayo, is now charging its beers in US dollars “only”, contrary to government directives to businesses not to charged goods in foreign currency.
“Today seems like a Monday to me,” remarked one despaired Evan Phiri on Saturday afternoon while trying to tell friends he often treated himself to a lot of beer during weekends but could no longer afford to.
A visit to bars in and around the central business district and those in residential areas showed that most of the taverns that usually sell cheaper beer were now either closing earlier than before or were almost empty all day.
“I have decided to stop drinking and divert the little that I remain with on buying basic commodities for my family,” said one Edwin Sibanda, who felt the increases have gone beyond business sense.
Malvern Takura said he was now feeling the health strain of a price induced abstinence from taking alcohol.
At Tipperary in Harare’s Avenues area, there were just a few ladies of the night who looked like they were pondering the apparent loss of clientele as the popular joint was almost empty.
“For the last two weeks business has been low,” said the barman, Moses.
“We have also been changing our prices now and then during the night and this has been chasing revellers away.”
The situation was almost the same at Londoners Bar, another popular joint, in the city’s Strathaven suburb.
In high density areas, bars and bottle stores which often sell what is considered as cheaper beer were also being forced to close early, with some not opening at all.
Apart from the high prices, some drinkers who were prepared to brave the high beer prices still found themselves being forced to take any brands that came their way as most of their favourite beverages were scarce.
This was blamed on some local suppliers who have stopped delivering alcoholic drinks in the last three weeks while considering the viability of selling their products at gazetted prices as demanded by authorities.
The increase in the price of beef and pork has also affected drinkers’ routines as most are also used to enjoy barbecues.