Mthabisi Tshuma, Showbiz Correspondent
Supermarkets and other retail outlets continue to sell alcohol despite the ban under the recently announced stricter lockdown regulations.
Vice-President, Dr Constantino Chiwenga who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care announced that only bars and restaurants serving hotel residents are allowed to sell alcohol.
The Government position was further explained by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ziyambi Ziyambi who cited provisions of Statutory Instrument (SI) 10 of 2021.
“The only places that are allowed to sell alcohol are hotels for their residents. If there’s a bottle store in a supermarket, it’s supposed to be closed. The SI banned the sale of alcohol by bottle stores and supermarkets, except hotels.
Those chain supermarkets have segments, if they have a bottle store in the supermarket, the bottle store should be closed,” said Minister Ziyambi during an interview last week.
A tour around Gwanda’s Central Business District (CBD) this week showed that supermarkets are still selling alcohol.
It was the same situation in the town’s western suburbs where it was business as usual in Jahunda, Phakama, Spitzkop, Senondo and Ultra High. There was also a hive of activity at shebeens which openly sold beer to their patrons.
There has been an influx of shebeens in Gwanda town since March when Government enforced lockdown regulations.
An imbiber who spoke to this news crew said the decision to ban the sale of alcohol by supermarkets and bottle stores was harsh since only the rich could drink at hotels.
“People from the western suburbs like us cannot drink at hotels so it means Government is saying we should stop drinking beer. This is why you see shebeens sprouting because people want their beer,” said Mr Dumisani Dube.
An informal trader who is now a shebeen queen at Senondo suburb said the Government ban had boosted her business as she is now serving more patrons than before the ban.
“I’m an informal trader who was greatly affected by the lockdown as we were forced to stop operating. I have now resorted to selling beer and business is looking good after Government banned sale of alcohol by supermarkets and bottle stores,” said the woman who refused to be named.
Sex workers said they were also among the people who have been forced to devise new ways of operating following the enforcement of stricter lockdown regulations.
“They said the closure of bars and nightclubs had adversely affected them since these were the places where they operated from.
The established and innovative ones have however, improvised and are working from home.
One of the ladies of the night said they now do what they have termed “mobile sex”.
“Last year was very hard for us and now, we’ve started the year with bars being closed. We’ve now decided to work from home and reach out to clients on the phone. If the day is not busy, I go and stand by the gate to lure potential clients,” said a woman who refused to be named.
Risk takers have however, remained on the streets and target mostly small-scale miners popularly known as ogweja who have been allowed to continue reporting for work. – @mthabisi_mthire.