President Robert Mugabe on Thursday temporarily shifted from his traditional attacks on Britain over homosexuality to alcohol, saying Zimbabwe had never called for a ban on whisky, yet the countrys former coloniser was pushing for strict measures on tobacco, Zimbabwes cash cow.
Officially opening the Chiefs Council annual conference in Bulawayo, Mugabe said Britain and some Western countries were silent on banning alcohol.
Why ban tobacco which has never killed one of our own people?
The British dont want to hear a ban on alcohol especially the Scots who are famed for their Scottish whisky. You see adverts of that man walking the world over selling whisky, yeah Johnnie Walker, said Mugabe amid laughter.
The President urged local tobacco growers to add value to their produce and increase exports to China.
Chinese companies have become the major financiers and buyers of Zimbabwes tobacco, consuming about 40% of the total output since 2010.
Tobacco is one of Zimbabwes largest foreign currency earners.
During the 2011 farming season, 132,4 million kg were sold, a figure that was, however, below the 170 million kg that had been projected by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board.
It raked in $361,5 million compared to $355,6 million realised in 2010.
At its peak in 2000, Zimbabwe produced 236 million kg of tobacco.
Tobacco cultivation is critical for the economies of developing countries and is one of the few agricultural activities to have remained buoyant during the recent worldwide economic crisis.
Newly-resettled farmers now constitute the bulk of tobacco producers in Zimbabwe.