Council robs artists of stage

Oliver Shambira



MUNICIPAL beer halls, hitherto honey pots for aspiring artists, have in recent years been run down, dashing hopes of those who could have made their

mark on the local entertainment scene.


What used to be ideal places for rest and relaxation for the impoverished worker after a hard day’s work have been reduced to havens for disease, fleas and a thriving crop of reptiles owing to years of neglect. Unkempt grass, broken windows, leaking taps and blocked toilets have become a common sight at many municipal beerhalls.


The situation is compounded by the fact that workers do not seem to care a hoot about the joy-seeker. Some have been accused of tampering with the quality of opaque beer deliveries for which they pocket additional funds.


Municipal pubs used to provide a stage for local musicians to showcase their talents, raking in “thousands” (then) upon putting pen to paper for a contract.


An additional windfall would come their way in the form of gate-takings which they shared with the local authority. But alleged administrative malfeasance has seen service delivery drop to pathetic levels while the buildings have crumbled to a sorry state.


An attendant at one bar said even the Juke Box music machines have fallen silent as their more discerning patrons drift in their droves to bottle stores at the risk of arrests, robbing musicians of potential royalties in the process.


Musical bands were engaged to draw huge crowds and promote sales. But now the aspiring musician can just wish he could pull back the hands of time in his yearning for the years gone by when now established artists were provided with a stage to hone their talents in the dusty townships.


An ill-thought-out rationalisation exercise by the city of Harare which owns the bars, according to sources, has seen the local authority offload general hands who were tasked with sprucing up their premises to ensure general cleanliness.


Irate revellers at a bar in Kuwadzana recently lamented the neglect of the bars which they say have
been reduced to “ticking time bombs”.


“If it were a private business enterprise, this bar would have been shut down years ago. But because council calls the shots, here we are, drowning our sorrows amid filth,” said one imbiber taking a sip at his bowl of opaque beer.


During the exercise, workers whose task was to collect used containers for cleaning were either axed or reassigned. Now the finicky drinkers have switched to clear beers while some have resorted to moving around with their own cups.


The slipshod staff has been blamed for doing a shoddy job when it comes to cleaning the containers and toilets. A toilet has been blocked in Dzivaresekwa for some time now with no sign of any repairs being effected. The blockages are
widespread in the high density areas.


Security is so lax that containers can be taken home and put to “many other functions” and still be returned. The unscrupulous find time to “announce their attendance” by etching their names and other unsavoury words on pieces of furniture.


At some bars attendants with gaping wounds could be seen serving clients instead of taking time off or being assigned other duties while they heal.


Big musicians now shun these bars preferring private clubs where the environment is cleaner and a business culture entrenched. But the entry charges there are too prohibitive, meaning the lowly-paid cannot see their idols perform live. Many did not have kind words for the health department which they accused of being selective in its application of sanctions.


Said one reveller: “It is a major requirement that there be running water at the bars but the water is not properly used. The containers are not properly cleaned hence the ‘poor attendance’ here even at monthends.”


A bottle store owner was bitter that council was quick to descend on them yet its bars are allowed to go scot-free.