MINISTER of Local Government and Housing Charles Banda says President Edgar Lungu might this week reopen bars when he addresses the nation because all consultations have been completed.
And Banda has described as cheap politics allegations that government has allowed the re-opening of foreign owned nightclubs and bars.
Addressing journalists, Monday, Banda said the Head of State would address the nation any time this week.
“What I want to say here is we have come up with recommendations, very exhaustive indeed which so far we have already presented to his Excellency the President, who, I want to say will be addressing the nation shortly and I want to believe that within this week, His Excellency the President may address the nation and part of the issues that he may discuss is the issue of reopening of bars and nightclubs. We have done all the consultations and the recommendations and we believe that what we have done will go a long way in us making progress towards normalizing business in all sectors in this country. So against that, I want to say that in the meeting, the ministries that were present included the Ministry of Local Government, the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry, Home Affairs, the Ministry Tourism and Arts, the Ministry of Health and also the Minister of Presidential Affairs was present in that meeting meaning that it was a broad range of ideas that came together to o the recommendations that maybe relied upon as his Excellency the President will be making his next briefing,” he said.
Banda said the decision to keep the bars closed was not meant to punish anyone but to ensure that an informed decision was made.
“Now, to our people out there in the industry, I want to repeat what His Excellency the President that we are not after punishing anybody at all, what we are trying to do is to come up with decisions which are going to stand the test of time, we don’t want to make hasty decisions and within a short time we start going back on those decisions which has happened in other countries where they have rushed up in opening bars and so forth and now they are fighting to re-close again which I think doesn’t ogre quite well in as far as governance is concerned. There is nothing like wanting to punish anyone,” he said.
Banda wondered why the Bar Owners Association would want to open with or without government’s approval when they were part of the consultation process.
“Our colleagues from the Bar Owners Association who are calling on their members to open with or without government pronouncement and so forth, I think that is not the way to go, the way to go is to work together. If anything, that Mr Lifwekelo attended one of the meetings where proposals were made and we assured them that we are going to transmit to the rightful authority so that the rightful measures are pronounced which will be binding and which are going to help us to put back the country’s economy on its wheels especially with the reopening of bars and nightclubs. So I want to urge bar owners to bear with us, government is there to work with you, for you and to ensure that you come back into business in a very safe manner,” he said.
And Banda said it was not true to say that only foreign owned bars and night clubs were allowed to operate.
“Those who are saying that foreigners are being favored…if you go round the compounds, bars are open in Chilenje, bars are open in Kabwata and if you look, those bars are not owned by any foreigner but because of some of our colleagues who have learnt the word for the first time in the dictionary, foreign investment, so that they can use it time and again, they have even forgotten to balance up the story to go and look at what is happening in the compounds where the Zambians are operating from, why haven’t they done that? This is very cheap politics, in my view, in most of my colleagues views, that is very cheap politics, you can’t just point out four places and then you generalize that for the whole country, we have had reports from all over the Copperbelt, Zambian bars, owned by Zambian people are at the helm giving us problems busy flouting the regulations but nobody is writing about that,” said Banda.