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Alcohol ban divides cabinet

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Alcohol ban divides cabinet

The continued ban on alcohol sales – ongoing since 27 March – has reportedly divided cabinet, with the more youthful Ministers allegedly calling for the opening of bottle stores to be included in the plan to ease Covid-19 restrictions.

Earlier this month, the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Peggy Serame shared a draft on her personnel Twitter account informing the public that government was working on a plan to ease lockdown restrictions.

The tweet, which was hastily deleted, explained the plan would involve certain businesses re-opening for operation.

Some of the listed enterprises included bottle stores, wholesalers, liquor distributors and bars.

The post further stated such establishments would remain closed but operate on a delivery basis.

“I know we have shared it as well to facilitate preparation but I will confirm the final list tomorrow,” Serame responded last week when The Voice asked for clarification on the Tweet.

However, it seems the decision not to implement the draft has left the cabinet divided along age lines.

According to a source, who preferred to be anonymous, Serame was put under pressure by some leaders to pull the post down.

“The leadership was not ready to have such information in public. The draft was implemented by Serame’s team at the Ministry but it clashed with what the Covid-19 Task Force team has suggested,” said the Minister, who claimed most of the elder cabinet members did not challenge the Task Force team’s recommendation that all bars and alcohol outlets should remain completely closed.

“The young ones feel that there was no need not to take Serame’s model,” added the insider.

The source claimed that with the public pressure mounting on Serame to allow the sale of alcohol, she leaked the drafts to show it was something she was willing to consider.

“People now know that she had made some efforts to open but got a backlash,” reasoned the Minister.

Meanwhile, Serame confirmed to this publication that the temporarily shared document was merely ‘a suggestion’ by her Ministry.

“My Ministry looks at issues of Investment, Trade and Industries, makes suggestions to cabinet and cabinet either approves the amendments or rejects. What happened was a mistake but I am not aware of any divisions that it caused in cabinet,” she maintained, further dismissing rumors she was cautioned by leadership over the incident.

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