Last night I was at dinner at the home of a neighbour, who happens to work in a brewery. Over some well-done goat muchomo, my tablemates and I got to discuss the brand of beer one of them was drinking. He explained that it was one of their own brands (a lot of the guests work in the same brewery). We asked because we’d never seen it before, not being beer drinkers ourselves.
He then qualified his answer by explaining that even if he was not bound by duty to drink his own beer, the state of beer sales in this country lately compels him to do something proactive about the amount of beer that’s being drunk.
Mbu, wait for it, people are not drinking beer!
Ever since a traffic police boss announced, as certain official types sometimes do willy-nilly, that anyone with alcohol in their system would be arrested if they were found behind the wheel of a vehicle … whether or not they were above the legal limit notwithstanding … as long as they had alcohol in their system, they would be arrested.
The announcer of this news, who I think is a PhD, has apparently singlehandedly reduced beer consumption to the level that one brewery has/is laying off workers as we speak; they have had to reduce their brewing frequency to thrice a week because they don’t have that many production lines to start with and a lot of their product is trucked in from Kenya. My dinner companion’s own company is itself contemplating reducing their own workforce and he warned us that we might soon see him out of a job. This in spite of the fact that his company is soon finishing construction of a new plant in Mbarara.
Why, you may wonder. Apparently, our companion explained, Ugandans heard the announcement, watched a few of their friends and drinking buddies get hauled in by the traffic cops for the merest whiff of alcohol, and decided that it was simply too much hassle to go out and have a drink in Munyonyo – where it tastes better and where all your mates congregate – when you live in Naalya. So chaps are going home and catching a pint there instead.
But you know how catching a pint at home doesn’t flow, you can’t house a round or be housed a round, there are no weave-wearing high heel & mini-dress rocking brown things to buy drinks for or cute waitresses to run up your tab for. The music is frankly depressing, you can’t be loud and tell off colour jokes, when the beer is finished, it is finished and let’s be honest, nothing spells sad loser like drinking alone. At home. In front of the telly.
So there we are, peeps are not drinking beer! Who woulda thunk it? Aside from all those tax dollars going unpaid from unsold and unconsumed beer think of the potential taxes on airtime (to rally quorum), fuel (to get to the joint and back), salon expenses (to look worth the beer spent on you) and imported condoms (unless you want the freebies of UHMG). Things got so bad for URA that The Dear Visionary was forced to direct the traffic cops to stop disturbing taxpayers. And as for the farmers of barley and sorghum, well, I don’t know who’s looking out for them. At least now I know why I haven’t been able to get as much brew mash as I would like, for my pigs to also be in a full full condition.
So, fellow citizens, to paraphrase JFK’s words, in the spirit of asking not what your country can do for you, but instead, asking what you can do for your country, go out and drink some beer! Then URA will collect some tax dollars and maybe, just maybe, Ms. Maria Kiwanuka will not have to increase/introduce taxes on processed fish, processed milk, fuel (again), domestic water (WTH!), motor vehicle registration, international calls and mobile money transactions.