Botswana, Zimbabwe’s diamond rich neighbor, on Tuesday witnessed a smooth power transition while it awaits presidential results. Seretse Khama Ian Khama was inaugurated as Botswana’s president, inheriting a rare political and economic success story.
from our Southern African correspondent
However, just a few miles away, millions of Zimbabweans desperate to end economic misery anxiously awaited results of an election in which Robert Mugabe faced the biggest challenge in 28 years of iron-fisted rule.
Former leader Festus Mogae retired after nearly a decade in power to hand over to Khama, 55, first-born son of Botswana’s hugely popular founding president, Seretse Khama. The president is also paramount chief of the biggest tribe, the Bangwato.
A new set of laws which is likely to cause uproar, however, went into effect yesterday.
The new liquor regulations with reduced trading hours, will be implemented with effect from tomorrow.
According to the revised regulations bars would now open at 2.00 to 10.00 pm from Monday and to Thursdays. On Friday and Saturdays, the bars would open 12.000 until 11.00 pm. Currently the bars close at midnight during the weekends.
Unlike the previous proposed regulations, which suggested that liquor outlets should not open on Sundays, but this time they would be trading.
However, the pubs would only open at 3.00 pm and close at 10.00 pm.
The bottle store trading hours would remain the same from 10.00 am and 7.00 pm.
Liquor restaurants would open at 2.00 pm and close at 10.00 pm from Monday to Thursday.
On Friday and Saturday, they would open from midday until 11.00 pm. On Sundays and public holidays, the liquor restaurants open at 3.00pm and close at 10.00 pm.
But nightclubs would be the hardest hit by the new regulations. From Monday to Thursdays, clubs would open at 7.00 pm and close at midnight. On Friday and Saturdays, the clubs would open at 7.00pm and close at 2.00 am. On Sunday and public holidays, the trading hours are 3.00 pm to 10.00 pm for nightclubs.
According to the regulations, festivals could only operate from 2.00 pm to
midnight from Monday to Saturday. Bars are also going to be barred from providing sport and recreational facilities like darts, pool and snooker.
The liquor law states that nobody would be issued with a licence where the proposed business premises are not at least 500 metres away from a school, highway, major or church.
But the licensing authority may negotiate with a licensee whose licence was issued before the coming into effect of regulation.
The assistant secretary of the liquor association, Thuto Che’ Mokgwathi is reported as saying that they are waiting for the regulations to be gazetted first before they could take any action. “Basically there is nothing we can do until the regulations are gazetted,” he said.
Interestingly he could not rule out the possibility of the association dragging the government to court.
Mokgwathi said they are not denying that there is alcohol abuse. But he called for consistency. “There should be consistency of the law. We are not saying people are not abusing alcohol but let us be uniform.”
He said the government should not target their businesses only and leave out hotels and shebeens. He argued basically alcohol is alcohol irrespective of whether it is served at home or in a private house.
Some Bastwana nationals blamed the spread of HIV/AIDS and other anti-social behaviour on alcohol abuse.