Harare CBD liquor stores face closure as government moves for new regulations


HARARE – The Zimbabwean Government has announced that it will not renew the licenses of stand-alone bottle stores in Harare's Central Business District (CBD) when they expire in June 2024. This move is part of a broader effort to combat drug and substance abuse and control the spread of illegal alcohol outlets.

Harare CBD liquor stores face closure, government new licensing regulations
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Gabriel Masvora, Communications and Advocacy Director in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, stated that all liquor retailing licenses will expire on June 30, 2024. 

"Specifically for Harare CBD, we have flagged all bottle stores and all their licenses will not be renewed," he said.

The Liquor Licensing Board (LLB), in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)'s licensing inspectorate, is conducting a joint compliance inspection of all liquor-selling outlets. 

Post-June 30, 2024, only bottle stores located within large supermarkets will be permitted to operate in the CBD.

Masvora explained that under the new regulations, liquor outlets "will not enjoy automatic (license) renewal" for the year 2024 if their operations pose a threat to public safety. 

He emphasized that it is the responsibility of businesses to register as stipulated by law.

The proliferation of alcohol retail outlets in central Harare has been a concern for authorities. 

This trend is largely due to low barriers to entry into the sector, including low capital requirements and licensing fees. The growth of the informal sector and lax enforcement of liquor licensing and regulations have also contributed to the increase in outlets.

The LLB introduced new regulations last year, stating that night clubs without soundproofing, air conditioning, or insurance will not be licensed to operate. 

Night clubs are also required to have illuminated fire escape signs, a minimum of two water closets for each sex, at least three urinal bowls or a three-meter-long urinal, and bar counter tops and shelves with a smooth impervious finish. 

Adequate firefighting appliances and fire escape facilities indicated by prominent notices should also be in place.

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