REHOBOTH, 23 Apr – Approximately 50 shebeen owners in Rehoboth staged a peaceful demonstration on Monday against the protracted moratorium on issuing of liquor licenses in the Hardap Region.
The moratorium issued in 2013 by the Liquor Board was implemented as a control mechanism to curb the mushrooming of liquor outlets within the region.
The demonstration, held under the auspices of the Namibia Retailing Traders Association (NRTA), attracted mostly women, some of them with babies on their backs. It started at the Okashandje Bar and ended at the Rehoboth Urban East Constituency Office.
NRTA Secretary-General, Fanuel Haiduwa read the petition to Constituency Councillor, Edward Wambo.
The petitioners want the lifting of the moratorium with immediate effect.
“We request the chairperson of the Hardap Region Liquor Board to organise an urgent meeting with the concerned parties to seek an amicable and lasting solution pertaining the lifting of the moratorium as it contains elements of unequal business opportunity,” Haiduwa read.
The petition said since the implementation of the moratorium, NRTA members owning shebeens have been negatively affected economically.
“The association held several meetings with relevant stakeholders since 2015 to find solutions, but nothing materialised and our efforts proved futile,” Haiduwa said, adding the meetings involved, among others, the regional governor, regional police commanders and the chairperson of the liquor board.
He cited the suffering of members and their businesses, noting that they were subject to socio-economic headwinds, accelerated by abject poverty borne from lack of development opportunities, unemployment and lack of political will in creating additional job opportunities. This all, amidst the economic struggles observed and experienced in the country.
“It remains a fact that some of us rely on these kinds of business trade. The solution of alcohol use, its regulation and control does not lie in a moratorium for an indefinite period; it rather lies in strategy and methods to curb all elements that negatively affect such trading,” Haiduwa said.
The moratorium discourages fair trading and robs potential businesspeople with honest intentions of opportunities to trade, and poses a threat to economic survival of members,” he added.
“We want our dignity to be restored as responsible businesspeople as it is a bread and butter issue that can be solved in a mature and considerate manner, having in mind the social economic consequences,” Haiduwa said.
He said they give Hardap Governor, Esme Isaack 14 days to respond on their grievances, otherwise they will demonstrate again.
Loise Paulus, a 32-year-old mother of four carrying a four-month old baby on her back, said she is suffering because of not being able to trade.
“I have to take care of my children, but without trading I am unable to do that,” she said.
Wambo, who received the petition, said he will forward it to the relevant authorities.
“I am only a messenger and will forward the petition to the relevant authorities,” he said.