Bar owners in Zanzibar decry police invasion

08Apr 2021
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Bar owners in Zanzibar decry police invasion

ZANZIBAR’s Association for Liquor Traders (JUWAVIZA) has said it was not right for fully armed members of the police and Security and Defence Committee from Zanzibar Urban West District to break into and arrest bar workers from various areas in Zanzibar.

This has been revealed here by JUWAVIZA Chairman Hussein Kimti to reporters in regard to an inspection crackdown of licences led by the District Commissioner Hamida Khamis Mussa.

Kimti said according to reports received from their members, fully armed police with other people who had masked their faces arrested bar workers from various areas and took away drinks after which they released them on bail.

“There were others who were taken to Mazizini Police Station and released on bail, but what saddened us was their invasion of business areas while armed, and there were reports that some of the doors of the business premises were broken to gain entrance,” he added.

However, Kimti said bar owners do not refuse paying tax but added that there was a petition in court they had filed after the Ministry of the Regional administration and Local government raised licence fees following the coming into effect of the Zanzibar Alcohol Control Act (No 9 of 2020). 

He said bar owners are required to pay 4.8m/- for licence instead of the former 2m/- per annum.

Kimti said after failing to reach a consensus through dialogue with the Alcoholic Drinks Control and Advisory Board and the minister responsible, they decided to file a case in the High Court to object the rise of the licence fees.

Catelina Peter Nao, a bar owner said the acts committed against bar workers and to the premises were not acceptable at all.

She said national leaders including Union president Samia Suluhu Hassan and her Zanzibar counterpart Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi have been appealing to government officials to have in place friendly environment for taxpayers including reviewing oppressive tax laws and regulations.

He said before coming up with bar licence fees rates, they were supposed to do research on bar owners capital and operation costs because the current situation would make many bar owners close their businesses resulting in loss of employment for the youth.

For his part the Executive Director of Zanzibar Urban West District Council Ali Abdallah Natepe confirmed the operation but said the one to speak on the matter was the District Commissioner. 

For her part, the District Commissioner, Hamida Khamis Mussa said the operation was conducted after receiving reports of bars that obtained licences from Alcoholic Drinks Control and Advisory Board for FY 2021/2022 before the year’s end in June this year.

“First of all I refute claims that doors were broken during the operation and no policemen had their faces masked up. They only had one firearm during the operation, said DC Hamida.

However, she said during the operation they discovered many things unethical that were going on, including girls selling themselves, guest houses and hotels being turned into brothels, and disco halls operating in the midst of residential areas.

She added that if there were bar owners complaining of high licence fees they are supposed to sit together with the Alcoholic Drinks Control and Advisory Board for discussions.

She added that District government and council leaders’ task was to make sure that all bar owners have valid operation licences.

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