Pohamba Defies Shebeen Owners

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OKONGO President Hifikepunye Pohamba defied shebeen owners’ call for him to allow the reopening of their closed unlicensed liquor sales outlets and to order the police to stop closing down the outlets. Speaking at the official inauguration of the Okongo police station and magistrates court in the Ohangwena Region on Friday, Pohamba declared that he had no constitutional right to prevent the implementation of any law. The President said the Liquor Act No. 6 of 1998 was passed by Parliament about seven years ago and the law enforcement agencies were just implementing it by asking people selling liquor without licences to stop doing so. Reacting to shebeen owners, who during various demonstrations held in the country blamed him for the closure of unlicensed shebeens by the police, Pohamba stressed that Namibia had a democratic Government and the country had a collective leadership. “Don’t make a mistake, what we are leading is a Swapo government. No individual can lead or take decisions without the mandate of the whole leadership of Swapo,” the President said. Although he pointed out that nothing good really comes out of drinking liquor, Pohamba reiterated that the Liquor Act did not prevent the sale of liquor. “But, those selling liquor must have licences to do so, otherwise no selling of liquor without a licence in this country,” Pohamba put it bluntly. He then cautioned shebeen owners that law enforcement agencies like the police would continue with the operation of closing down unlicensed liquor outlets. “I have a problem to lead a nation of drunkards,” Pohamba told the Namibian nation, adding that when he consulted the social sector (churches and local authorities) on the matter, all were in agreement with the enforcement of the Liquor Act. A crowd of shebeen owners staged a peaceful demonstration at the northern town of Oshakati demanding the Liquor Act to be reviewed at the same time as Pohamba defied their call to reopen the unlicensed shebeens. – Nampa