Liquor sachet ban in Malawi not enough

My neighbor’s house is some two football pitches away form mine. Apart from selling fish, he also trades in the illicit drug locally called chamba, or Cannabis sativa if you want. He makes a lot of money from the sale of the drug and with it he has managed to erect three decent houses in one of the townships in the commercial capital of Blantyre.

Red card to sachets

Red card to sachets

One day as I was coming back home from work, I found a handful of men who were openly smoking the stuff. I called my neighbor and warned him against the public selling and smoking of chamba to which he blatantly told me that the law enforcers know about his trade and that many of them buy from him. He also said some are on a weekly payroll so it is difficult to cut the hand that feeds them.

I didn’t blame him for that. In fact I thanked him for defying all odds to tell the truth. Then I came to understand partly why the banning of growing, selling and smoking of chamba is a lost battle.

As an educationist, I have particularly been concerned with the tendency of some school boys in secondary and primary schools that resort to taking liquor sachets. This has done so much damage to our children. They have become a rude crop of children and have developed stealing tactics. As alcohol provokes many things, some have died while the lucky ones have simply been left with scars. Furthermore, the most careless have contracted sexually transmitted diseases.

Their performance in class is usually deplorable. One of my students at a private school had confessed to me that he was so much used to taking Rider sachets that every time he was coming to school, he had to go and help himself with one or two before proceeding to school.

So when Parliament passed a Bill stopping production, distribution, selling and consumption of liquor sachets, I smiled fervently, but quickly sulked. Is this serious or it’s just a way of putting to rest calls by some NGOs to formulate a law against production of the same. Who are the people to enforce the law? Aren’t they the same that are said to be on weekly payrolls?

These liquor sachets are not only produced in Malawi. We have the whole variety that seeps in from the neighboring Mozambique. I am talking of Mozambique because I am based closer to that part. For the law to be working, government should gear up its campaigns to make sure there is no proliferation of the sachets.

I read with concern the fact that the liquor sachets contribute to over 90 percent of total earnings for Malawi Distilleries Limited. It has also been my concern that if the ban indeed works, the company will no longer be operational. I thought about the problem of job opportunities in Malawi and guessed where those to be laid off would end. I do not know how many people the company employed but to me two is still a big number.

That aside, I looked at my own child. In Chichewa, we say Mbuzi ikalawa zamchere siletseka and therefore no matter what, the only way stop our children from consuming the liquor is by stopping its production and importation.

All I can say is that we have good laws in place but we are very weak at making them work. We have just recently seen another Bill on marriage pass. This one says the marriage age for girls should be 18. Not long after the Bill was passed, I heard that a 65 year old man in Chinyama in Mulanje has taken on a 14 year old girl as a second wife. Mindboggling isn’t it?

There is need for the law enforcers to be serious about these things and bring to book whoever breaks the laws. For the sachets, the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) should make sure that local canteens should not stock any liquor sachets. All people, in fact, trading in illegal stuff need to be brought to book.

I would, in a nutshell, also suggest that when carrying out operations to check on illegal dealings on these illicit substances, the police should not involve officers from within because they have befriended the traders. Rather they should deploy officers from other areas like Limbe to patrol Mulanje and Mulanje to patrol Chiradzulu. That way, the battle to end illicit dealings will no longer be a nightmare but a reality. And only then can Malawi sing a good song.

  • The writer is a teacher, and a social commentator.
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titus Scoti

Zochitika za “End of Times”. Bamwani ma sachet kuti nzeru zanu zizitha komanso mmuzitupa. Bakhwewani ganjayo tidzakuperekezani ku Zomba muzikacheza ndi Bengo.


jada amwebwe pamenepa


Za zii ife tikanamwa pano tikulowela ku Jada basi



Venture Thupa

Aphunzitsi, nkhani yabwino, koma as you pointed out earlier that those are real sources of income to some disadvantaged parents for their children to b paid xool fees,if u ban these substances,still some pupils arenot going to make future anyway! In my case, I would suggest that all xools should always ban the use of these substances…& @ home parents should b responsible for their children to make sure they teach them the consequences of the use of these products. I don’t think the production of sachets should be banned as it is part of job creation in our coutry!

special advisor
Tax the stuff. Make it expensive to produce. Tax it. Make it unaffordable to buy. Ask that it be packaged in 5 and 20 litter containers. Make it difficult for kits to afford from bus fare money. Provide an alternative to young people. What is the substitute or alternative to alcohol. Youth want fun, excitement, …. What alternatives are there? What social structures and services are there? What about parenting? Many parents, especially, fathers all they know if to make babies. But they don’t take responsibility for nurturing them. In turn their son end up making babies that they don’t… Read more »
Concerned citizen

kodi anthu amene amamwa ma satchet asiya kumwa mowa ndipo kuti pano akuthamangira kuzintchito zawo zosiyanasiyana mam’mawa kukacha?


ife nde wu not stop selling pano we have just designed plastic bottles instead of suchets but its gona b the very same price


amagailidwa ma sachetiwo?? amatola??? ndi ndalama amalipira ngati mmene umagulira sugar…alekeni akhale ndi ufulu wopeza anythn as long as u hv money



Nde chambacho chimenecho, how come mukusiya kulesa mowa in general mukunena za chamba, ndipo sanena kuti chamba uneed civic education on this issue, ndi tsamba not chamba, osalesa mowa omwe mudaupangira lamulo la ddd i.e don’t drink and drive, uzungucracy basi, sungaone wekkha kuti amakwanisa to bring bread on his table nkumanganso nyumba yoposa ya a mp, mbuzicracy plus zungucracy, ur suporting whiteman industries osati black man’s. Mudazolowela kusungisidwa ndalama polima chimanga kenako kukagulisa mosikamtenngo komano kuti inu mukagule fertilizer koma kugulisa zokolola zonse kukagulako thumba limodzi basi, osalesa anthu kugula fertiliza bwa chifukwa sapindula naye, tsamba ndilodalisika man, asanena… Read more »

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