Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga wants government to come down hard with laws intended to control and eradicate alcohol abuse.
Kadaga criticised government for delaying to legislate against alcohol abuse, saying Parliament will now ask MP Betty Nambooze (DP, Mukono Municipality) to reintroduce her hitherto shelved Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill, 2016.
While attending a breakfast meeting at Kampala Serena Hotel meant to address the increasing incidents of alcohol abuse among under age school goers on Thursday, 22nd February 2018, Kadaga said the issue of alcohol abuse would be long resolved, but that Parliament only makes recommendations for government’s action.
“I am going to encourage Hon. Nambooze to come back with the Bill. We are going to debate this matter and make our decision. If Parliament had the exclusive power to ban sachet alcohol, we would have done it, but we make recommendations,” said Kadaga.
Nambooze’s Private Member’s Bill was shelved after government claimed it was fine-tuning new legislation that would address her concerns.
However, it has been a while and the proposed legislation is yet to be introduced by the Executive.
In the recent past, an emotive debate on alcohol rocked Parliament with Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde insisting the ban will be undertaken in phases due to economic implications of the decision.
Grace Butembi, a Clinical Psychologist at Butabika Hospital said 31 percent of underage children in Uganda are abusing alcohol “because of poverty in homes.”
He said the youngsters have devised ingenious ways to smuggle the substance using unorthodox means.
“They soak bread in alcohol, mix in fruit juices and put it in [sanitary] pads and get drunk by sublimation,” he said.
Sublimation is when anything solid turns into a gas without first becoming liquid. The issue of home brewing of alcoholic substances emerged in the meeting, with Kadaga saying whereas most homesteads participate in the activity, no one is regulating them.
Kadaga blamed local shops and supermarkets for selling alcohol to minors without verifying their age, saying somebody must take responsibility and close those shops.
“Who is going to lock up the shops of those selling alcohol to minors? Somebody must do it. There must be people to implement the set of regulations,” she said.
Organized by the Straight Talk Foundation, the meeting also saw different pupils being awarded for their essays on the best practices to alleviate underage alcohol consumption.
This is the fourth year of the annual campaign to address underage alcohol abuse.