LIQUOR traders in Bulawayo have appealed to the government for exemption from paying rentals, arguing the Covid-19-induced lockdown is threatening to push them out of business.
Liquor outlets throughout the country were barred from operating by the government as part of efforts to curb the spread of the deadly pandemic. In a letter to Industry minister Sekai Nzenza, the Liquor Traders Association said rentals have been their major concern during the lockdown since they have been closed.
“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 to date.
“Rentals are a major concern but we would also request through your esteemed office to consider our other areas of concern…” reads the letter in part.
“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.”
According to the association, Bulawayo has 1 015 outlets registered with the liquor licensing board. “These outlets employ on average 15 225 individuals who are facing an uncertain future.
“The liquor selling industry transcends to the extended families that rely on revenue and proceeds from the sector,” the association said. The association further noted that it was worried that stocks which are stuck in warehouses are now going to expire.
On utility bills, the association said they were facing a mammoth task in staying afloat as utility costs continue to rise without trading. “We, as the association, remain committed to upholding the law and lockdown regulations as the statutory instrument and uphold the sentiments of His Excellency in the fight against Covid-19.”