- Prime Minister Hage Geingob announced this morning that recent oil exploration off the Walvis Bay coast has confirmed that the country has oil reserves, although not in commercial volumes.
Shebeen furore hits City
A group of shebeen owners was expected to swamp the offices of Safety and Security Minister Nangolo Mbumba last evening, in search for audience and intervention in a spate of closures of unlicenced shebeens in Windhoek and the arrest of their owners.
An 11-member committee was constituted yesterday and, moments after coming into existence, delegated to approach to Mbumba to apply brakes to a campaign led by the Namibian Police and the Windhoek City Police.
The committee is tasked to solicit counter reaction from the minister, who is also the deputy secretary general of the ruling party Swapo.
Hundreds of shebeen owners converged on a Katutura soccer field yesterday and vented their anger on law enforcement authorities for the drastic steps to close down shebeens that have been in operation without licences.
Law enforcement agents went on an arrest spree on Tuesday and yesterday, while confiscating alcohol stocks that they described as ‘proceeds of crime’.
The campaign targeted those that have no liquor licences, or those selling alcohol that is classified outside the confines of their licences.
Several owners of Shebeen Liquor Licences were found selling liquor that can, by law, only be sold by Special Liquor Licence holders.
Under the Shebeen Liquor Licence, owners are only allowed to sell liquor whose alcohol volumes do not exceed 16%.
Only Special Liquor Licence holders are allowed to sell liquor that exceed 17%, Namibian Sun was informed yesterday.
Prior to agreeing to send shebeen representatives to Mbumba, an idea was brought up to solicit support from Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma, who is seen to have a soft spot for the masses.
This was however dismissed after some shebeen owners deemed it disrespectful to surpass President Hifikepunye Pohamba in favour of Nujoma.
“The idea to speak to the Founding President came up, but it was eventually done away with out of respect to President Pohamba,” a Katutura businessman told this newspaper.
Shebeen owners criticized the police, saying thousands of Namibians make a living from
Others say they have applied for liquor licences for years but their applications have consistently been unsuccessful and circumstances have forced them into operating without licences.
“I don’t have the two required toilets and brick house,” said Johannes Kamati, who owns a shebeen in Okahandja Park.
Despite a barrages of criticism, Khomas Police Regional Commander, Commissioner Festus Shilongo who orchestrated the move, was unfazed.
Speaking to Namibian Sun yesterday, Shilongo vowed to continue enforcing the law until Parliament changes it or a court declares it unconstitutional.
“We cannot warn people today and relax the next day,” Shilongo, who made an immediate impact since his arrival from Erongo Region, said.
“Unless the law is amended by parliament or declared unconstitutional, we will continue to do what we have taken an oath to do.”
Shilongo was unhappy that comparisons are now being drawn between his approach and those of his predecessors, saying his is his own man.
“I have my own principles and understanding. I’ll feel guilty to receive a salary every month while the law is being broken..”
In fact, Shilongo emphasized, if police cells had enough space, more shebeen owners would have behind bars by now.
“Because of our limitations, we will arrest a few day by day, send them to court and arrest others after the initial ones get bail.”
Politics has trickled into the whole saga and by last night, some concerned operators were accusing Shilongo of orchestrating humiliation of the Swapo-led government at the whims of the opposition.
“This is not a Shilongo legislation. I’ve taken an oath and I will uphold my promises. I’ll continue to do this as long as I am in this position,” he countered.