ZANZIBAR – The Zanzibar Liquor Control Board (ZLCB) has issued alcohol licenses to more operators, locking out former importers weeks after the High Court of Zanzibar issued a ruling restraining the ZLCB from interfering with their operations, suspending their permits, or delaying their good.

According to The Citizen, previous importers including the Zanzibar Maritime and Mercantile International Co Ltd (ZMMI), One Stop Company Limited, and Scotch Store Limited, continue to face delays in permit issuance, an issue that has since raised concerns about potential legal confrontations. 

The move has also resulted in beer market instability, with findings indicating that ZLCB has issued licenses to three more companies in addition to the three that were issued import permits in January 2024. 

The licensed importers include Kifaru, BevCo, Zanzi Imports, Emirates Leisure, 101 Investments, and Cros Boarders Trading Co. 

Despite ZMMI, One Stop, and Scotch Store holding cargo worth billions at the port, the three continue to face restrictions in obtaining import licenses. 

The three companies have now moved to court accusing port authorities of contempt of court ruling earlier issued by Judge Rabia. 

In February, the high court granted an injunction to the three companies, restraining ZLCB from interfering with their operations. 

Despite the filing, the ZLCB Chairman has written to the port authority instructing the management to disregard the supposed order. 

Even though the revelers have breathed a sigh of reprieve, they argue that the beer market has yet to stabilize, as the gap left by the three importers is still big for the new players. 

As the tussle for import licenses continues, the hospitality industry has undergone a tumultuous period. Beer prices have skyrocketed, with some brands surging over 300 percent. 

Despite court intervention in April, ZLCB is yet to adhere to the ruling resulting in acute shortage of beer and other alcoholic beverages in the Isles. 

The court found the restriction on import permits enshrined in the Zanzibar Constitution, including the freedom to conduct business and the right to earn a living. 

The ruling also highlighted the role of the Constitution in protecting its citizens’ right to pursue business ventures for their livelihoods, pointing out that both the Zanzibar Constitution and the Fair Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCFCPA) mandate to prohibit businesses from acting in a way that hinders new entrants. 

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