BY SHINGIRAI VAMBE
RUSAPE — A locally brewed crude wine (vinyu) has become part of life for most people in Zimbabwe, following a sharp hike in beer prices.
It is believed that this type of wine can send someone into a drunken stupor within minutes and can have a devastating effect on people’s health, including swollen feet and loss of memory.
A high number of employed Zimbabweans have resorted to this product, which is readily available in Mutare.
After extracting wine for the main market, all the by-products are then used to produce vinyu.
Faced with economic problems coupled with an increase in poverty levels, many have resorted to drinking alcoholic beverages such as Super, scud and vinyu, while others prefer cheap children’s cough syrups.
NewsDay interviewed a number of consumers of vinyu in Manicaland, who said they currently had no choice but to drown their sorrows drinking these cheap products.
“We cannot afford to buy local beers and other formal beer brands,” one of the consumers, Admire, said.
“It (vinyu) is only $1,50 per 500mls and that bottle of wine is enough for one to get drunk.”
A quart of beer which contains about 5% alcohol content now costs upwards of ZWL$8, while a bottle of whisky costs around ZWL$40.
Most youths say they cannot afford to buy these brands.
As a result, they are opting for what they can afford and vinyu has become their solace.
Even the price of Bron Cleer, a children’s cough syrup popularly known as Bronco and sold on the informal market, which many had turned to, has also become expensive for some.
According to medical experts, it is difficult to measure the alcohol content in vinyu.
A woman who sells vinyu in Rusape said selling the brew was the only way they could eke a living.
She said the situation in Zimbabwe is forcing them to sell anything, no matter how illegal, so they can put food on their tables.
“We wake up early everyday to go and buy vinyu in Mutare,” she said, adding that their clients favour red wine as they say white wine is too sweet.
“A 20-litre pack of vinyu costs ZWL$60 dollars and we make a little profit out of it. Yes, police raid us at times, but this is our source of livelihoods. We have to find means to get to our customers,” she said.
Zimbabweans have also been drinking ZED, an illegally brewed spirit, smuggled into the country from Mozambique.
Its alcohol content is about 43%. It has been a cheaper option for imbibers for some time, but the border control unit managed to ring-fence all porous border areas that were used to bring in ZED into the country.