WAD Meets President on Shebeens

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Women’s Action for Development (WAD) Executive Director Veronica de Klerk and leaders of Women’s Voice yesterday met President Hifikepunye Pohamba to deliberate on social challenges facing rural women. The issue of shebeens in the country topped the agenda. WAD Executive Director De Klerk told the President that illegal shebeens should be weighed up against the massive destruction which they have on countless families and lives of the Namibian people. Many people have their lives ruined because of uncontrolled intake of liquor. The women’s voice members have reported to the organisation that some alcohol abusers carelessly dispose of condoms they use while intoxicated with alcohol and innocent children have been found with used condoms in their mouths. Such cases have prompted the Women’s Voice, particularly members in the Omaheke Region, to set up an anti-shebeen committee at Otjinene to address the numerous social evils of shebeens. Having been working as community developers for more than 12 years, De Klerk reported that her organisation has become acutely aware that important gender-related laws are regrettably being disregarded by a large section of the Namibian society daily. Given the situation, she said it would be unfortunate if the current Liquor Act, which was passed with the noble intentions of upholding norms and values in the country, is sidelined by society. “It is WAD’s opinion that if laws are passed, the nation should respect and adhere to them, since the citizenry are putting their full confidence and trust in our lawmakers to thoroughly debate and contemplate on laws in parliament,” she said. The organisation appealed to the President as the main custodian of moral values of Namibian citizenry to safeguard and protect the already existing fragile society against social evils such as illegal shebeens. Meanwhile, shebeeners have for more than a week been camping outside Parliament Building protesting against the police action of closing illegal or unlicensed shebeens. Yesterday, Moses Amukoto from Oshikoto and leader of shebeeners in the northern regions, told New Era that demonstrators are aware of the law and its content. However, considering that shebeens are their main source of income that allows them to sustain their families, the government should at least respond positively to the request of putting a moratorium on the Act while it strives to find a long-term solution to today’s shebeen problem. “We are only asking for two things. We want our shebeens to be opened and police action to stop. Then with their time, they can work on the Act. We know that the procedure to change the law is complicated and takes time,” he said. Yesterday afternoon, shebeeners gathered outside Parliament singing. On Tuesday Prime Minister Angula announced in Parliament that the solution to their (shebeeners’) problem might only come in three weeks time and that they must return to their homes. Despite that, the demonstrators said they would rather wait outside Parliament and more shebeeners from the regions were expected to arrive yesterday evening. “The four buses are coming from the north. They are likely to arrive today,” confirmed Amukoto.