Shebeen Battle Far from Over

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Pro-shebeen demonstrators who were holding vigil outside Parliament have said they might return after two weeks depending on how the Government handles their case. During the weekend, Namibia Shebeen Association (NASA) President Veripi Kandenge said after wide consultations with various stakeholders over the shebeen situation in the country, it was agreed that NASA members should return to their homes while Government attempts to find a positive solution. Leaders of the shebeeners who had been camping outside Parliament yesterday told New Era that Government should remember that their departure from Parliament premises could be temporary. “They must bear in mind that we will return after two weeks if they do not give an answer. We expect Government to do something, we are still fighting,” said shebeen leader from the Erongo Region Ben Petrus. Though they have finally agreed to go back to their regions after several pleas from top government officials, Petrus added that the people (shebeen operators) are not happy that they have to leave without the desired answer. In a petition handed to Speaker of the National Assembly Theo-Ben Gurirab, pro-shebeen protestors appealed to Government to stop police action that has led to thousands of shebeens being closed. Kandenge added that NASA leaders only managed to convince their followers to leave because Government acknowledged that the current Liquor Act is full of “problem areas” that must be looked at. Another leader of demonstrators for the northern regions Moses Amukoto revealed it was difficult to convince their members to leave the Parliament premises. According to Amukoto, “We know that although people are going back, they are going to starve, that is a fact.” Meanwhile, shebeeners feel they have been discriminated against considering that since the shebeen operations campaign started more than a month ago, only certain regions have been targeted. “Why only Erongo and places like Omuthiya? We feel we are being discriminated against especially when you look at our economic status,” added Amukoto. Amukoto and Petrus lashed out at media reports that some shebeeners carried placards with messages insulting President Hifikepunye Pohamba. “Whoever saw the placard apparently with a message ‘Down Pohamba’ should come out and show us that person. These rumours must be stopped, we came here with one purpose, to have our shebeens opened,” stated Petrus. Shebeeners are expected to disperse by the end of today.