Maun club owners express sour grapes over illegal vendors

Maun night club owners are accusing North West District Council authorities of undermining their businesses
Maun night club owners are accusing North West District Council authorities of undermining their businesses

MAUN: Businessman Reneilwe Wright has come out guns blazing against North West District Council (NWDC), accusing the legislative body of undermining nightclub owners and the economic value of nightlife in Maun.

The owner of the popular Fresh Exclusive nightclub slammed NWDC by-law officials’ for “failing to control mushrooming illegal hawkers and vendors who trade outside nightclubs.”

He said club owners’ bone of contention emanated from the fact that despite repeated requests to the NWDC and police to assist them control illegal traders, their pleas had seemingly fell on deaf ears as no action had been taken.

“These people are stealing our business but authorities turn a blind eye to that. They are running businesses with approximate value of more than P 100,000, right in front of our nightclubs. They sell cheap alcohol, food and some of them even peddle illegal drugs,” he said.


The club owner further said to add salt to injury, the blame over crimes such as rape, assault and drug abuse is usually squared at their door, but it’s the illegal vendors who attract the trouble.

Wright said that the vendors are seemingly a law unto themselves, and this is aggravated by the fact that some police officials and council staff moonlight as night vendors.

“When the police raid the nightclub to close it down, they do not do anything about the outside vendors; they just leave them to continue selling alcohol and food as if they are the ones licensed or paying tax,” he fumed.  He refuted accusations that nightclubs are responsible for littering as well as the huge crowds which gather outside their properties.

“Those people who flock outside out nightclubs are a problem because they cause a racket. However, they buy from the vendors and play music from their cars. Our customers actually go inside the nightclub,” he stressed.

Wright said the club owners were surprised last week when NWDC by-law superintendent Phemelo Matome was quoted in a certain newspaper, threatening to close down to nightclubs in Maun, which he apparently said did not comply with their license terms.

 “They accuse us of lawlessness and pollution but yet we have made it clear to them that we are not responsible for that as it is committed by the illegal hawkers,” he said.

Wright said his business has been adversely affected by the illegal hawking alleging that recently he had to lay off some of his staff because of the impact.

“Night life in Maun was once revered across Botswana, but all this is going down thanks to inhospitable attitude from our council and soon we may be forced to close down our businesses,” he decried.

Efforts to reach Matome from the office of the by-law at NWDC hit a snag at the time of going to press.

NWDC chairman Reaboka Mbulawa quashed the sentiments that the council is out to destroy nightlife in the tourist town. Mbulawa confirmed that the club owners had complained to his office about illegal hawkers. He, however, insisted that the council and police had in the past organised operations to raid the illegal operators, but they always returned to the same spots to operate their illegal businesses. He said that illegal night vendors like the informal sector are difficult to control and monitor, but they were trying their best.  Mbulawa promised to arrange a meeting with the club owners and concerned authorities to deliberate on the problems and find a solution.

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