Tourism minister, Walter Mzembi plans to legalise shebeens in Zimbabwe. He told MPs in Parliament that his ministry had drafted a new policy to “remove a colonial mindset on shebeens” by formalizing their operations.
Shebeens are unlicensed establishments or private homes selling alcohol which are favoured by Zimbabweans, mainly in working class suburbs, for convenience and flexible opening hours.
Despite spirited campaigns by politicians for many decades, notably by the late Makokoba MP Sydney Malunga, shebeens have remained illegal in Zimbabwe and are subject to regular police raids.
Now Mzembi is proposing a policy shift which will see shebeens being registered. Muzarabani South MP Cde Christopher Chitindi (ZanuPF) had asked Minister Mzembi on his ministry’s policy on shebeens.
Zvimba West MP Cde Ziyambi Ziyambi (ZanuPF) subsequently asked if shebeens were legal, while Umzingwane MP Priscilla MisihairabwiMushonga (MDC) asked what guarantees were there that only beer would be served without turning them into brothels. Mzembi said: “We’re rebranding shebeens as home hospitality centres and there’ll be an extension of products that we shall register. They’ll be licensed to host people in a typical home environment.
“I don’t see what happens in bedrooms, I just register a product and I don’t mind whom you sleep with.”
He said the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority will soon register shebeens ahead of the forthcoming International Conference on AIDS and STIs to be hosted in Harare next month.