The Shebeen Association of Botswana (SHABO) is currently engaging government with a view to ironing out differences over traditional beer regulations, which are to take effect at the beginning of July.
The regulations, which will prohibit the sale of traditional liquor from homesteads, have been received with resistance by both traditional beer sellers and some politicians who cite lack of proper consultation by government.
In an interview with Sunday Standard, Raoboy Mpuang, the association’s Publicity Secretary and Councilor for Monarch East Ward in the Francistown West Constituency, said they are currently conducting tours countrywide to try and lure more members into SHABO in order to strengthen their voice when negotiating with government over the regulations.
He said they want to have as many branches as possible countrywide in order to defend the rights of shebeen owners.
“We are not at war with the government. All we want to do is to sit down with the Minister of Trade and Industry and discuss challenges that will be presented by these regulations such as the issues of relocation. Shebeen operators are still in the dark as to where they will be relocated and that remains our major concern,” he said.
Mpuang said the association, which was formed late last year, already boasts a membership of about 5000 members. He said that one of their latest achievements is their ability to negotiate with other associations in neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa to be able to benchmark with them.
“I am also happy that our association is registered with the Registrar of societies in accordance with the country’s laws and are in possession of a registration certificate,” he said.
He added that their intention is not to undermine or overlook the traditional beer regulations, but to try and help government enforce traditional beer regulations, which will leave all parties happy by creating a win-win situation for all.
Mpuang said their main objective is to partake in the battle against HIV/AIDS, natural disasters or any social ills that affect the shebeen communities of Botswana.
“Our association is also tasked with sensitizing the shebeen operators on issues of traditional beer operating hours, including hygiene issues as raised by government,” he said.