consficated Chibuku bottles to be destroyed – Picture by Lily Kampani (Mana)
By Ireen Kayira
Chibuku Products Limited Malawi (CPL) has seized over 200 cases of Chibuku Super beer in Lilongwe which is suspected to have been smuggled into the country from neighbouring Zambia.
The development comes after the company conducted a two-day search in Lilongwe and Mchinji districts on July 16 and 17 respectively.
In Lilongwe, the illegally imported beer was seized from Chinsapo, Biwi and Area 24 among other places.
Speaking with Malawi News Agency (MANA) on Thursday, Business Development and Cooperate Affairs Manager, Gloria Zimba said the beer-brewing company conducted the search after noticing the drop of its sales by 50 per cent.
“We have been struggling for almost two years and when we checked at the market to find out why our sales have dropped, we discovered that there is a lot of Chibuku Super in the market that is being smuggled into the country from Zambia,” Zimba said.
She said the search targeted Mchinji and Lilongwe because these are the hotspot areas of the smuggled beer and that Mchinji is being used being the district that borders with Zambia.
According to Zimba, the beer company conducted a similar operation last year with MRA when they seized a lot of smuggled products in Mchinji, Lilongwe, Mzimba and Mzuzu.
“After this exercise last year, the products were out of the market but currently, we noticed that there is growth of smuggled Chibuku beer and this time it is worse than before,” Zimba said.
She said to end the problem the company is engaging different stakeholders so as to make sure that the product is completely out of the market.
She pointed out that smuggled products are a threat to the development of the country because they do not contribute any tax to Malawi Government when they are being smuggled into the country.
“Since the traders involved in smuggling do not pay taxes, their products are cheaper compared to the locally manufactured Chibuku, hence creating unleveled market environment,” she said.
Zimba said what is more frustrating is that the Zambian Chibuku Super beer has been branded in such a way that it resembles the Malawian Brand which makes it difficult for customers to differentiate.
Even though this is the case, Zimba said there are differences in the two brands, the remarkable one being that the Zambian Chibuku Super bottle is longer than that of Malawi.
In a statement released months ago on smuggled products , Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) said smuggled products deprives traders a fair competition which might lead to collapse of local industries.
The statement also said smuggling deprives government of tax revenues which are necessary for the provision of social services and development projects for the people of Malawi.