Bar Owners Seek Lockdown Rent Amnesty

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

BULAWAYO liquor traders have pleaded with government to introduce a moratorium that would see them being exempted from paying rentals during the current Covid-19 induced lockdown.

The dealers argue that the lockdown was threatening to push them out of business, more so, if they continued paying rentals while they were not operating.

Government last year imposed a freeze on residential evictions arising from any default in rental payments by tenants as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Liquor Traders Association Monday wrote to Industry and Commerce minister Sekai Nzenza requesting a waiver on rentals.

The traders highlighted that rentals have been their major challenge during the lockdown since they have not been operating.

“We would like, through your esteemed office, to apply for your assistance to exempt liquor outlets from accrued rentals since the first lockdown in March 2020 till to date.

“Rentals are the major concern, but we would also request through your esteemed office to consider our other areas of concern.

“Despite the unwavering support and declaration from His Excellency, Emmerson Mnangagwa on rental reprieve, the reprieve excluded commercial properties.

“The arrears keep on ballooning as we are not trading and the payment obligations will still remain with each passing month,” reads part of the letter.

According to the association, Bulawayo has a total 1 015 outlets registered with the liquor licensing board.

“These outlets employ on average of 15,225 individuals who are facing an uncertain future. The liquor selling industry transcends the extended families that rely on the revenue and proceeds from the sector,” the traders said.

The association also expressed concern over expiring stock in warehouses and the continuing increase on utility costs while they were being frozen out of business.

“We need to pay electricity and water. Some of our products needs to be refrigerated. We also need electricity for lighting and alarm systems,” added the association.