GOBABIS: Traditional and religious leaders based in the Omaheke Region have called on Government to consider stricter operational guidelines and regulations for alcohol trading enterprises, arguing that the rate of alcohol abuse in the region has reached disproportional heights.
In a rare showing in the Omaheke Region, where traditional leaders are divided along political, ideology and even tribal lines, the community leaders staged a united front in the call for Government to better regulate the alcohol industry.
The community leaders pleaded with First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba during her visit to the region on Saturday, when she consulted with them on issues of maternal health, to lobby on their behalf against the illicit sale of alcohol.
Firebrand Chief Sophia Jacobs of the !Kung San people in Omaheke – the only female chief in the region – told the First Lady that the abuse of alcohol amongst community members have threatened the economic development of the region as money is wasted on alcohol.
She said schoolchildren are especially guilty of alcohol abuse, placing the blame squarely on parents, who do not take an active role in the upbringing of their children whilst away at boarding school.
“You find that parents buy toiletries and all other necessities for their children when they return to school, yet they still give them a bunch of money as pocket money. It is such money that is spent on alcohol, as the kid finds that he has too much money to handle,” she said.
The traditional leaders told of incidences when parents had to be called in at various schools in the region, as their children apparently frequently arrive at school drunk.
Senior Traditional Councillor, Erastus Tjiundikua Kahuure of the Ovambanderu community, joined Chief Jacobs and others in calling for better regulations on alcohol trading places.
Amongst the suggestions floated around during the meeting was to prohibit the sale of alcohol near schools and churches, and to allow such places to only open in the late evening.
“We are losing the better part of our future generations to alcohol abuse. There are people that would wake up and sit at an alcohol trading place until dusk.
Children nowadays do not listen to their parents, as their parents are afraid to confront them because the children are always drunk and could turn violent. This is really worrisome and something urgent needs to be done,” he said.
The community leaders agreed on the formation of a committee that would look into the matter and devise strategies to address the issue.
Various chiefs and traditional authorities’ representatives, amongst them Chief Tumbee Tjombe of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority, Chief Hubert Ditsabue of the BaKgalagadi ba Namibia and Chief Gerson Katjirua of the Ovambanderu Traditional Authority attended the meeting.