TANZANIA – The High Court in Tanzania has ruled in favor of three companies—Zanzibar Maritime and Mercantile International Co Ltd (ZMMI), One Stop Company Limited, and Scotch Store Limited—that were previously denied importation licenses by the Zanzibar Liquor Control Board (ZLCB).  

The court granted an injunction on February 19, restraining the ZLCB from interfering with the companies’ operations, suspending their permits, or delaying their goods. 

In addition to the injunction, the court has ordered the ZLCB to issue import, distribution, and sales licenses to the companies pending the final determination of ongoing appeals and legal proceedings.  

The ruling aims to address the beer shortage and price increases that resulted from the ZLCB’s decision not to renew licenses for the three importers earlier this year. 

Justice Rabia Hussein Mohammed stated, “The court orders the ZLCB to issue import, distribution and sales licences to the applicants, pending hearing and final determination of this matter, including a pending appeal to Zanzibar Tourism and Heritage minister and related judicial review proceedings.” 

While the full details of the court’s reasoning are not yet available, the decision is seen as a positive development for beer consumers who faced shortages and price hikes.  

The ZLCB’s initial decision not to renew licenses triggered significant disruptions in the supply chain, leading to concerns from tourism businesses and legal actions. 

Traders attribute the root cause of the issue to the ZLCB’s delays in issuing permits to the importers.  

The court’s ruling suggests that the judges found merit in the arguments presented by the applicants. The ZLCB may choose to pursue further legal avenues or seek a political solution in response to the ruling. 

The ongoing situation has led to the island depending on supplies from the military and potential smuggled alcohol, despite recent assurances during a meeting with the Zanzibar Revenue Authority.  

Simai Mohammed, Zanzibar’s former Minister of Tourism and Heritage, urged investors to remain calm while seeking solutions to the challenges faced by businesses. 

According to The Citizen, importers in Zanzibar are required to pay a hefty Tsh30 million (US$11,787) annual fee to the ZLCB for a license. Zanzibar law also mandates that importers be Zanzibari residents with a clean tax record, a warehouse, and a delivery vehicle.

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