THE Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) extravaganza that is underway in South Africa, has seen sports bars recording brisk business for operators capitalising on the huge number of revellers wanting to watch games, by charging entrance fees.
Report by Winstone Antonio
A snap survey by NewsDay Leisure around Harare showed that some bar operators were charging entrance fees ranging from $3 to $10. Other bars were asking revellers to buy at least two quarts or four 300ml bottles of soft drinks.
Sports bars and night clubs are smiling all the way to banks courtesy of the Afcon tournament.
A prominent soccer fan from Harare’s sprawling Dzivaresekwa suburb, Martin Mhere, popularly known as Kinjo, said watching games in sports bars was more fascinating than watching at home alone or in the company of one’s wife. However, he indicated that it was increasingly becoming too expensive given the huge traffic of soccer fans visiting the bars to watch Afcon games.
“There is no doubt that soccer is very popular in Zimbabwe and other countries as evidenced by the number of people visiting sports bars and night spots to watch games.
“But the biggest challenge now is that the bars are charging exorbitant entrance fees and as we go home, commuter omnibus operators also charge anything between $1 and $2 to take us to Dzivaresekwa.
“This is deeply worrying and I see this putting off some soccer fans. We are only trying to entertain ourselves, but others are seeing business opportunities instead,” Kinjo said.
Milton Maboreka of Glendale said it was unfair for sports bars to force everyone entering a bar to buy beer since other people don’t drink.
“Even to ask someone to pay something like $5 to watch a single game is unfair because that is what we pay at times to watch a live game between Dynamos and Highlanders or Caps United.
“Were it not for power cuts that we are subjected to by Zesa, we could be watching the games from the comfort of our homes,” he said.
A manager at one of the top sports bars, who spoke on condition of anonymity, defended the charges saying at times they use generators when there is a power cut. “Paying $10 entrance fees to watch soccer, which is redeemable when one buys beer, soft drinks or snacks; is not unreasonable in our view.
“My friend, remember that we use generators most of the time due to power cuts and anyone who is familiar with the price of fuel will never say we are ripping people off,” he said.
Shops selling electrical gadgets have also increased prices on a variety of appliances. Even prices for new television sets have been slightly adjusted especially at the popular Gulf Complex in Harare.
A shop assistant at a local electrical shop along Sam Nujoma Street, who identified herself as Cecilia, confirmed the price increases.
“Prices of our electrical gadgets such as free-to-air receivers, decoders and television sets, have been increased as demand has risen since that start of the Afcon games,” she said.
Boutiques have also been cashing in on replica soccer jerseys for top African teams such as South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast.