Please allow me to wish all mothers, sisters, grannies, friends and compatriots a fulfilling Women's Day. Mothers have played and continue to play an important role in our lives. Some of us have been raised by mothers alone. I long for my mother whom I buried on the 21st May 2016. She was both a mother and a father to my brother and me. May her soul rest in peace. Not a single day during our upbringing did I miss the presence of my father in my life because of the way our mother brought us up. My mother used to run a shebeen in Kliptown in a two-roomed house. One room was used as a kitchen, dining room and a study room. Most evenings we would share a table with my mom's patrons while studying, using a candle. There was no electricity and for sanitation we would use bucket systems. Up to this day, Kliptown does not have electricity and sanitation.
Under all these circumstances, I still managed to pass my matric and even complete my degree with her support, running a shebeen. Most known politicians, businessmen and businesswomen have been raised by single mothers surviving by selling umqombothi (African beer).
How can we forget the march that was organized by our grandmothers in 1958 when they marched to Pretoria highlighting the plight of our suffering during the Apartheid era? When our democratic government took over, they honoured our grandmothers by declaring this day a public holiday. When the Gauteng government came with the idea of regulating our industry by issuing Shebeen permits, we were all excited since it has been difficult for us as liquor traders to apply for liquor licenses because of the infrastructure of our townships, which were not zoned for business use, unlike the previously whites-only residential areas. Challenges persisted until 2014 when the Gauteng government, under the economic development, in consultation with municipalities, decided to convert permits to shebeen licences, with certain requirements..
Let's wish all mothers, sisters, grannies, friends and compatriots a fulfilling Women's Day. Mothers have played and continue to play an important role in our lives.
The process has, however, since stalled because of certain legal challenges. Whilst we are excitedly awaiting these shebeen licences, there's this proposed liquor policy that will be promulgated in a near future. If one interrogates this draft policy, one will realize that in the near future, most of our members will be out of business because of certain clauses proposed in the policy. The first one that comes to mind is the 500m radius from churches, schools, recreational facilities and liquor. If one considers these requirements, one will conclude that there won't be shebeens in our townships and informal settlements but what confuses me more about these requirements is that in Sandton, Rosebank and other big malls, you will find pubs next to one another. There are so many pubs in Sandton which are a few steps away from the library. The policy proposes lifting the drinking age limit from 18 years to 21 years, and whilst we are not against this proposal per se, the implementation of the restrictions is cause for concern since it's up to the liquor trader to prove that the person is not under age.
Another challenge amongst us is the situation whereby, for instance, a person is found mugged or killed next to one's outlet. In that case the owner of that outlet will be held jointly liable for the death since it will be assumed or concluded that the people responsible for the death might have come from the nearest tavern. There are many more clauses in the policy that, when one studies them, one will realize that as liquor traders, our future in our own country is bleak. We are of the belief that the police are directed to especially Black liquor traders because our White counterparts are not at all affected.
As if this isn't enough, the Department of Health is coming up with a policy that will restrict people from smoking at a designated area. Now one is expected to move 10m away from a window of an outlet. Just imagine how this requirement can be implemented in townships because if you start counting 10m away from a window, one will find themselves on the other person's property. Sometimes when you read these regulations, one wonders if people were really in their senses when they penned these regulations.
To end frustrations, I would like to share a story by a certain man.
Once upon a time there was this man who was continually complaining of his wife, saying his wife was lazy not looking after children and all sorts of things. One day, he decided to ask God to make him a woman for a week so that he could teach his wife how a woman should look after her family. Because our God always answers prayers, God agreed to change him into a woman. God then changed his woman into a man during that period. Within two days, the man could not withstand the responsibilities and challenges faced by women and asked God to immediately change him back to being a man. God obliged, but unfortunately God could not change him immediately because he was already pregnant. You see, we cannot question the power of women and for that I would say to all women in Africa and the world, "Uu bosso wena!" – as the late Vuyo Mbuli would often say on his TV show. Salute to all women and God bless you all.
Mish Hlophe, President, SALTA