• June 7th, 2020

Corruption hampers effectiveness of Namibian Liquor Act

The positive effects of shebeens, which originates from an Irish word “síbín” for  an illicit bar or alcohol club without a licence, to the economy may include income generation, job creation, expression of cultural identity and pride, self-reliance, entertainment and social and cultural meeting place and political platforms. 

That’s exactly what happened before independence during the colonial era when blacks were restricted to participate in the formal economy. In order to carve out a life, especially in the urban areas where they were living in squalor conditions, blacks reverted to the informal economy of shebeens and cuca shops.

Shebeens were mainly run by women to supplement the meager incomes of their husbands who were working as migrant laborers in urban towns. The shebeen culture made its way to Namibia from South Africa after the apartheid regime of South Africa took over the administration of the then South West Africa, Namibia’s colonial name.

Shebeens may have social, economic and historical functions but their presence within residential areas have more negative effects compared to their positive gains.  

Corruption, in terms of how the Namibian Liquor Act 6 of 1998 is implemented, is a larger contributing factor in the mushrooming of shebeens in the residential neighborhoods throughout Namibia.
These are some of the disturbing findings of a Masters of Arts in Social Work degree research thesis submitted to the University of Namibia by Miriam Winnie Shidolo. The thesis is titled: “Perceptions of the effects of shebeens on the community of Greenwell Matongo, Windhoek”.

After Namibia’s independence in 1990, Namibia embarked upon a socio-economic developmental path, through various policies such as the NDP plans and Vision 2030, to steer the country towards progress and prosperity.  

In this same spirit, the Namibian Liquor Act 6 of 1998, introduced eight years after independence, was enacted to consolidate and amend the laws relating to the control of the sale and supply of liquor in Namibia. 

The law regulates the sale and supply of alcohol in Namibia but at the same time introduced conditions and processes for registering a shebeen. However, the study found that those conditions and processes of registration are impractical, ineffective, inefficient and largely not being followed.

Notwithstanding the law’s many flaws, corruption is a dominant catalyst for the act’s implementation failure. The study discovered the process to issue and acquire liquor licenses is shrouded in that corruption practices by law enforcers, administration of courts, and shebeen owners. Bribery, victimisation and intimidation of residents were revealed as being the main factors that lead residents into signing the consent forms for a shebeen to be erected in a residential neighborhood. 

Complicating matters further are that many community members lack information and knowledge about the consent form that should be signed before a liquor license is awarded. Many revealed that they thought it is just a mere form to be signed for formality reasons. Nor are they aware of their rights to say no when asked to sign the form.

It is also worthwhile to note that people taking advantage to venture, even it is not really what they want, into shebeen businesses due to loopholes in the regulation and implementation of the alcohol law act 
The ineffectiveness of the Liquor Act is hurting our nation and therefore reversing our political, economic, environmental and developmental gains made since independence. The results are more alcohol-related problems in the country such as excessive drinking and criminality. 

Negative effects such as excessive noise, excessive alcohol consumption, poor parenting, children’s low performance at schools, poor hygiene, increasing crime, and poverty were uncovered by the study.
Noisy environment coming from the music and the shebeen patrons; people urinating or helping themselves everywhere due to lack of proper sanitation facilities are factors contributing to poor quality of life of the affected communities. They are causing sleep deprivation, poor concentration on schoolwork, poor hygiene, infections, and other communicable diseases such as hepatitis A and flu..

To this, the study has concluded that the control system of shebeens should be made stiffer to get away with illegal shebeens, bribery, and those that are operating after hours. Intervention and proper monitoring and evaluation systems would help eliminate hazards and reduce environmental risks, therefore greatly benefit people’s health and positively contribute to attaining our nation’s social goals. 

Effective measures and policies dedicated to limiting alcohol density will mean reducing alcohol-related problems, thus enhancing and creating a healthy alcohol Namibia environment while improving the quality of life in communities. 

Social and economic prosperity are impossible in an alcohol infested environment. Shebeens must be banned from residential areas and moved away from residencies as they are hurting our communities greatly. Doing so would promote a better quality of life for Namibia.

Staff Reporter
2019-07-26 11:15:15 | 10 months ago

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