By Eliaser Ndeyanale
FOLLOWING public consultative meetings with stakeholders on the Liquor Bill, the National Council says the immediate amendment of the Bill would result in the loss of jobs and investors.
In August, the National Council referred the Bill that will add more teeth to the State’s crackdown on alcohol, to its Standing Committee on Public Accounts and Economy to review the provision of the Bill and investigate its implications for public consultation.
In the report which was tabled in the House by the committee’s chairperson Peter Kazongominja, it is recommended on the findings of the committee that the Ministry of Industrialisation gives a grace period of less than two years to relocate for all would-be affected shebeens in residential areas including those in close proximity to churches, safety homes, old age homes, schools and hospitals.
Ironically, most of the shebeens under scrutiny are owned by political heavyweights and well-connected bigwigs including councillors.
“The Ministry of Safety and Security must intensify its law enforcement responsibility of monitoring access to shebeens by minors, the opening and closing hours of shebeens, unlicensed shebeens and noise pollution.
“Local authorities must come up with modalities on how to minimise liquor outlets per suburb and provide serviced land designated for the operation of shebeens,” the committee recommended.
The committee also revealed in its report that shebeens in residential areas have negative effects such as noise pollution, poor hygiene, littering, loitering and societal problems such as poverty and domestic violence associated with the abuse of alcohol.
What is proposed to be amended in the Bill is among others, the Liquor Act of 1998, provision for the issuing of licences to establishments within a prescribed distance in the vicinity of certain areas and the inclusion of residential premises and hospitals as an additional factor to be taken into account when considering a licence application.
The amendment also seeks to provide for the regulation of the selling of alcohol in retail outlets linked to petrol and diesel service stations outside the prescribed hours. During the debate in the National Assembly on the amendment, DTA president McHenry Venaani said lawmakers must consider the fact that some people would lose their income if shebeens were closed. Venaani’s claim was contested by the Deputy Minister of Safety Daniel Kashikola who said that Government must weigh this loss of income against the number of children failing their exams because they are subjected to loud noise emanating from nearby shebeens, adding that loss of income from selling alcohol was not an important factor to be considered because people would find other ways to make money.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015