Life will never be the same for shebeen revellers in Botswana as the government is reinforcing laws of the sale of traditional beer in the country through the new traditional beer regulations.
It is not only the beer drinkers who are uncomfortable over the introduction of the new regulations, but even the enthusiastic traditional beer sellers are waiting in fear as they are uncertain about their future in traditional beer business.
The regulations, which will come into effect in a week’s time, will force traditional beer sellers from operating their businesses in homesteads, particularly the selling of Chibuku.
The introduction of the laws has left many sellers and traditional beer lovers murmuring with discontentment over the issue of relocation and even the new operating hours in the regulations. A number of politicians, especially those from the opposition parties, have also raised their anger on the imposed regulations blaming the government for inadequate consultation before passing the new laws.
On the other hand, the government has cited its reasons for banning the selling of beers in homesteads as a way of trying to regulate it. The government has asserted that through the regulations, it is trying to mitigate the social ills, such as crime and alcoholism that are brought about by these shebeens.
“The new regulations for us are a devastating blow as we will never enjoy life like we used to,” said one Jack Gole of Gerald Estates location in Francistown. “Drinking traditional beer in a shebeen at home with a group of friends is more relaxing. The government should also consider the fact that in cities like Francistown and Gaborone there is shortage of land to relocate thousands of beer sellers.”
He says that the decision by government to impose the new regulations will not solve any problems but create a spiral of problems, especially for the sellers who will be forced to close business.
He further said that should the government drag its feet in assisting the beer sellers in the relocation process, some people are likely to break the new regulations.
Mavis Wedu, a shebeen queen in Block 7 in Francistown, also expressed her displeasure with the new traditional beer regulations, saying that although the government has announced that it will assist them in the relocation process, she is doubtful if thousands of all traditional beer sellers will be assisted.
“Government, in collaboration with Kgalagadi Breweries Limited, has assured us that it will help us in establishing depots, but I am still doubtful if all of the shebeen owners will be helped. For some of us, it means closing business and loss of income,” said an emotionally charged Wedu.
However, Khunou Khunou, a resident of Gerald location, feels differently about the new regulations, saying that they will help curb crime and other socials ills. He maintains that although he is a traditional beer drinker, he supports the government on the new regulations.
“I just think there are too many shebeens in the country and the government made a right move to try and regulate them. Too much of everything is not right.”