Bulawayo city councillors have said it is better to license shebeens, rather than bottle stores calling for policies to make them legal.
According to the latest council report, councillors were debating an application for a development permit to establish a bottle store within a supermarket in Mpopoma, during a meeting of the Town Lands and Planning Committee.
Councillor Silas Chigora, in the minutes, said licensing bottle stores led to fouling at supermarkets by drinkers.
“Councillor S. Chigora supported the application. Previously similar applications had been acceded to. Fouling was one of the major challenges in most shopping centres. Council should have a policy on shebeens and relevant by-laws enforced,” read the minutes.
Cllr Felix Mhaka supported shebeens because they have adequate infrastructure for patrons.
“Councillor F. Mhaka was in support of shebeens. Shebeens had been there pre-independence and they promoted both local and international tourism. Council should have a policy with regards shebeens. He did not support standalone bottle stores. Most illegally operated shebeens had all the required infrastructure.”
Town Lands and Planning Committee deputy chairperson, Cllr Sinikiwe Mutanda, also did not support standalone bottle stores.
“She did not support the application (to establish a bottle store). A bottle store within a supermarket was not different from a standalone one. Fouling would still be experienced. Most bottle stores had turned out to be drinking spots without adequate infrastructure,” read the minutes.
“In response the deputy director of engineering services (town planning) explained that the supermarket was located at Bango Shopping Centre in Mpopoma. Council policy supported bottle stores within a supermarket. Most standalone bottle stores enjoyed existing user rights. Council was no longer in support of new standalone bottle store applications. In the CBD most supermarkets had bottle stores within. No fouling had been experienced.”
Earlier on, the committee considered the matter and Cllr Tawanda Ruzive sought clarification about the report.
He wanted to know if the applicant had started operations. It was now common for applicants to operate first without a development permit. Regularisation fees should be deterrent enough. The City at large should not support the establishment of shebeens. Shebeens were mostly associated with immoral behaviour and other criminal activities.
Council also supported the establishment of sports bars which was an improvement from standalone bottle stores.
It was resolved that a development permit to establish a bottle store on Stand 50291 Mpopoma Township be granted to Inathi Supermarket subject to full compliance with the requirements of the director of engineering services, director of health services, director of housing and community services, and any other municipal by-law requirements.