Accepting the Inevitable: The Liberalization of the African Alcohol Industry in Salisbury, Rhodesia, 1960s to the Early 1980s

  • Nathaniel Chimhete Department of Economic History, University of Zimbabwe
  • Eric Makombe Department of Economic History, University of Zimbabwe


This article examines the liberalization of one of the oldest monopolies in Rhodesia, the Salisbury Municipality’s monopoly over the production and sale of African beer in the city from the 1960s to the early 1980s. This monopoly unraveled at a time the state was creating more monopolies in other sectors of the economy. The article explores why developments in this industry defied national trends. Using primarily Salisbury City Council archive documents, the article argues that contrary to a popular view in Zimbabwe that the white-run Salisbury City Council sold Rufaro Brewery in order to cripple the incoming black government, the Salisbury Municipality was forced to liberalize the African alcohol industry by African shebeen operators and legal private enterprises (particularly Chibuku Breweries and bottle store owners), who were increasingly eroding its market share.