Over the years, the Kgatleng District Council has compromised for Dikhwaere over Christmas by allowing traders to sell alcohol at the grounds to boost their earnings.
However the local authority this week rescinded the decision, following numerous applications from individuals demanding the same leniency shown to the choirs.
Sales of alcohol are the main revenue spinner for choirs in Kgatleng, who sing for free and rely on the revenue made from sales.
Kgatleng District Council chairperson, Mpho Morolong said the local authority had been inundated by requests from other traders demanding the right to sell alcohol outside the legislated areas.
“The challenge we are facing is that we have been licensing applications from choirs contrary to the dictates of the law, as a compromise to allow them to gain something from their volunteerism to freely entertain Bakgatla and keep them away from festive accidents and other ills,” Morolong said.
“The challenge today is that we have multitudes of individuals who are applying to sell alcohol at farms and picnics. “They are now challenging our selective licensing approach asking why they cannot benefit from the same arrangements.” He said the prospective alcohol traders had accused the Council of double standards and ulterior motives of “ruining” the festive season.
The Council has however written a letter to Investment, Trade and Industry Minister, Vincent Seretse asking for a general exemption for liquor traders in Kgatleng over the festive period.
Morolong said the Ministry was yet to respond and expressed concern that they had expected a swift response. “I recently made a follow up by phone call to the Minister and he assured us that a follow up on the matter would come.
We are still awaiting that response,” he said. Yesterday, Seretse told Mmegi that it would not be possible for Kgatleng to be accorded special treatment especially in a short space of time. “I have not been able to see their request, but I understand that it is with my Ministry.
I got a call from Morolong recently on the letter but all I can say is that it won’t be easy to help them,” he said. Baikopanyi Choirs Association chairperson, John Marumo told Mmegi that the alcohol ban would not only affect their annual earnings as choirs, but dampen the atmosphere of the cultural occasion.
“As choirs we depend on alcohol which is the best selling product during the festive season. If you do not licence people it affects all of us,” he said. Ntwaagae Molosa, a loyal supporter of Dikhwaere in Kgatleng said the thought of the events without alcohol was unimaginable.
“They may as well take away their festive season. We are fed up with this alcohol obsession by the country’s leadership. They said I am responsible when I crossed 18 years so why are they now deciding where, how and what I should drink,” he said.