- “We’d witness the rebirth of the country’s nightlife”- Masisi
- “We’d welcome this development, but…”- Modibe
Key players in the creative industry have welcomed with both hands the possible extension of entertainment hours in Botswana. This is after an unconfirmed document claiming that government was considering time extensions circulated on social media.
While government dismissed the purported leak as “fake”, excitement over the possibility of time extensions was palpable on and off social media. It has been a decade since government imposed time-restrictions on the country’s nightlife, to that end, Time Out spoke to industry players to establish what it would mean to them if the restrictions were reversed, especially now when President Mokgweetsi Masisi seems to be on a roll, reversing some of the Khama-era policies.
Joseph Masisi, the manager of Stallion Investment, a group that owns Ozone night clubs across the country, says back in 2001 before the new Liquor Act, night clubs opened from 10pm to 4am Monday to Sunday a time frame that allowed them to make profits and in turn hire more people including artists, sound people, security and waiters among others.
He says after the new Liquor Act was put in place without consultation, there were mass retrenchments across the entertainment sector, increased use of hard drugs and violence. Many night clubs also closed down as they as they went out of business.
“We basically lost 70% of our income and were forced to go out of business because of the short hours. During holidays we witnessed a lot of Batswana leaving the country for a good time in neighbouring countries; and when we have visitors in the country we practically have nowhere to take them,” Masisi said, adding that they should have been consulted to establish the impact the new act would bring before decisions were made.
The businessman says they tried to petition against the new act in 2010 but failed as they were not given any response. Masisi however says they are still hoping for the reinstatement of the 2001 act.
“Botswana’s nightlife is already dead and with the extension of hours we would be back in business and create jobs. The remaining venues are now struggling and if the situation does not change it will be extinct. I mean what does one do after 2am? The roads are not safe at that time, it is expensive to get home by cabs and alcohol is even more expensive,” he said.
For his part founder of the Botswana International Music Conference (BIMC) and promoter, Seabelo Modibe says said the extension of operation hours is long overdue. “While the idea is highly welcome we need to address other issues as well, regulation of human behaviour and charges.” Modibe however says one of the changes should include the sale of alcohol which he said should only be bought in bars and other places except bottle stores, distributors and wholesalers where it is bought in bulk and should not be consumed in parking lots. “People found drinking in parking lots must face stiff fines and selling without liquor license should come with hefty charges,” he said.
“The extension of hours will benefit everyone in the creative industry, from the artists who will have more gigs, promoters, the sound guys among others. There are more advantages as opposed to the negatives but we can always find middle ground to settle these negatives for the sake of the industry,” Modibe added.
Botswana Music Union (BOMU) president, Pagson Ntsie also supported time extensions saying they have benefited the industry in the past unlike now where the use of hard drugs is on the rise due to restrictions. “Drugs are another source of entertainment nowadays; reduced hours are not favouring us because at midnight after a show people have nowhere to go and end up engaging in drug use because alcohol is very expensive. It is safer and more affordable to get home after 6am just like we did back in the day,” he said.