A Ward 8 Council meeting heard complaints by Newlands residents that The Bootleggers Liquor Centre in Newlands Shops was selling alcohol after hours, and encouraging public drinking from motorists who park just outside the shopping centre, creating a nuisance in the neighbourhood.
The practise of buying alcohol from the bottle store and drinking it in public, while standing around an open car boot in the company of friends, is a way of drinking the weekend away on a shoe-string budget. Drinks are much cheaper from the bottle store than in a pub. Apparently this type of drinking seems to be becoming a trend as is also happening at the Fife Avenue Shopping Centre, Montague Shopping Centre, the Kamfinsa Shops and other spots around the city.
Harare News spoke with Ward 8 councillor Chris Mbanga who sidestepped the issue, saying, “Regarding the drinking that takes place at a bottle store at Newlands Shopping Centre it is a matter between the owner of the bottle store, the police and the licensing authority – The Liquor Licensing Board. Our interest as Council is limited to ensuring health standards are met and that rates and water charges are paid. I cannot comment on who does or not drink at that place. I am also not privy to the conditions imposed on the license.”
Harare provincial press spokesperson, Inspector Pamire said, “There hasn’t been any official complaint but we have been making arrests of people who drink illegally in the neighbourhood, and also doing raids from time to time. We urge citizens to report any issues that they think contradict the law.”
The bottle stores have no power to decide where the customers drink the beverages they buy from them. If the consumers are not drinking the alcohol on their premises they have not broken the law. However these bottle stores have apparently been coerced by customers and financial incentives to close long after their designated opening hours.
Efforts to get a comment from the bottle store owners have so far been fruitless.