- Prime Minister Hage Geingob announced this morning that recent oil exploration off the Walvis Bay coast has confirmed that the country has oil reserves, although not in commercial volumes.
Mbumba, police differ over shebeens
A storm is brewing within the Ministry of Safety and Security over the closure of unlicenced shebeens, with the political and administrative leaderships torn apart over the issue.
Safety and Security Minister Nangolo Mbumba has told unlicenced shebeen owners to continue operating in the interim while a lasting solution is being hammered out, contradicting orders from the Khomas Police Regional Commander Festus Shilongo
But the Khomas Police chief has vowed to continue closing such shebeens and arresting their owners, unless parliament or the court orders him otherwise.
“I don’t think the minister would say ‘go and commit crimes’ because by law, selling alcohol without a licence is a crime,” Shilongo told Namibian Sun yesterday, after he was alerted to Mbumba’s advice to shebeen owners.
Shebeen operators yesterday ululated in joy after a committee they have tasked to speak to Mbumba broke the news that the Minister has told them to operate in the interim while a lasting solution is being sought.
Mbumba had to leave parliamentary proceedings on Wednesday after he received a call from shebeen owners seeking his audience.
“I sat with them and they narrated their difficulties to me,” the Minister said.
“They spoke about difficulties to acquire land and fitness certificates.”
Mbumba said there is currently a moratorium on the issuance of liquor licences and this has made matters worse for those involved in liquor-retailing business.
“I could not take a conclusive decision because I am yet to formally inform the Prime Minister.”
He added that consultations would be held with all relevant stakeholders such as the City of Windhoek and the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development over this issue.
Mbumba is convinced that there exists a series of circumstances that make it difficult for current operators to abide by the law in its entirety.
“Yes, the law is in place. But enforcers of this law must also take into consideration the people’s circumstances and possible consequences,” Mbumba said, in a direct swipe at both the Namibian and City Police.
Shilongo told Namibian Sun on Wednesday that he would fail in his statutory duties if he aborts the ongoing exercise, a sentiment he echoed yesterday.
The contrasting approaches between Mbumba and the regional police chief could have far-reaching consequences on both the cohesion within the ministry and on the current campaign to shut down unlicenced shebeens.
It also resuscitates the debate on the separation of powers between politicians and technocrats in government.
Mbumba’s lenient approach towards the matter seems to be a reward to shebeen owners for seeking a solution through dialogue as opposed to demonstrations and other forms of violent actions.
“I appreciated the fact that they called to talk to me peacefully,” he said.
But Shilongo feels abandoning the law at the whims of politicians’ instruction would make him a failed cop, a tag he refuses to shoulder.
Namibia Shebeen Association’s Andreas Nuule, who was among those that met Mbumba on Wednesday, refused to divulge details on the matter.
“I don’t want to comment on the closure of shebeens being put on hold. I don’t have that mandate. We just started with the discussion,” he said.
The differing stances of Mbumba and Shilongo have also injected a great deal of confusion amongst the shebeen community.
“We really don’t know whether to resume business or not,” a shebeen operator in Freedom land commented.
“Even with Mbumba’s instruction, you might find that the Commissioner would send troops to arrest us.”