An illicit brew called vhinyu has become a viable alternative for many people in Rusape and elsewhere who find the new increases in the price of regular alcohol unbearable for them.
The crude wine is said to be so powerful that it can send the drinker into an immediate stupor, raising serious questions about its suitability for human consumption.
The alcohol is reportedly brewed at Sun Crest in Mutare and Matanuska in Odzi from grape residues that are left out during wine-making processes.
TellZim News interviewed some vhinyu imbibers who said they were drowning their sorrows in the cheap but dangerous substance.
“We cannot afford the normal alcohol that we used to buy. Clear and opaque beer as well as spirits have become unaffordable so we have no choice,” said one drinker.
The alcohol costs $1.50 per 500ml, making it cheaper than any beer, cider, wine or spirit on the formal market.
A quart of regular beer which contains five percent alcohol content costs an average $7 while a 750ml bottle of viceroy brandy costs an average $40.
Broncleer, a cough syrup with that is being abused mainly by the youth, is also said to be much more expensive than vhinyu.
A lady who sells vhinyu in Rusape had the highest praise for the brew, saying it was giving her a livelihood.
“We wake up early to go and buy vhinyu in Mutare at either Sun Crest or Matanuska where they manufacture wine. The two companies produce white and red vhinyu but our clients prefer red vhinyu to white.
“A 20 litre container costs $60 and we make a little profit out of it. Police at times raid us, but this is our source of living. We have to find the means to get to our customers,” she said.
Some alcohol connoisseurs and health practitioners, however, warned against consumption of the new brew, saying it was not being produced in accordance with set standards, and that its alcohol content was not being measured.
“It’s a dangerous alcoholic concoction made under the dodgiest of conditions using questionable ingredients. It’s not advisable to drink it as it contains many impurities that pose twice or even thrice as much risks to health as regular alcohol,” said one expert.
A few years back, many people died from the effects of another illicit brew called ZED which some nicknamed Zimbabwe’s Emergency Drink which was being smuggled from Mozambique and was more affordable than regular alcohol.