Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
SIGNATURE Bar, situated along Robert Mugabe Way in Bulawayo, has been evicted after failing to pay rent.
The bar has borne the brunt of the brutal economic challenges that many such establishments are facing due to the effects of the Covid-19 induced lockdowns.
On a Tuesday morning, the messenger of court came like a whirlwind and removed the bar’s property. This was because Signature Bar proprietors were in rent arrears, five months behind to be precise, from last year.
Many proprietors who run bars are in the same predicament, as they have to pay rentals, water bills and also workers.
However, because there was a hard lockdown last year, most bars were closed as a precaution to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Signature Bar’s proprietor, Msondezi Msebele said they were operating under difficult conditions as he was five months behind on rent.
“It’s been tough. As bar owners, we are all on the same boat. We might be having different arrangements with the landlords, but business isn’t moving at the moment. The rental debts have been accumulating ever since the closure of bars last year.
“I was so hopeful that when things ease, we could get into good arrangements with the landlords, but in our case, it was unfortunate that the landlord wasn’t considerate of the situation. We tried to engage them and show them our books, where we stand and our commitment but it seems all that was in vain,” said Msebele.
He said on Tuesday, they tried to pay the outstanding rentals, but the landlord had made up their mind to evict them.
“We are US$4 100 behind in our arrears. So, when the manager Dalu wanted to pay US$4 000, the landlord had already made up their mind to evict us.
“Before the lockdown, our rentals were always up to date. This is a situation that we can’t control,” said Msebele.
During the course of last year, he said he tried to pay rentals, but it was unsustainable without any income since the joint was not operational.
“I got a chance to meet up with other bar owners and we discussed how they are surviving with this rentals issue. They told me that their survival is due to their relations with their landlords while some of them own the properties.
“Unfortunately, we don’t own the building. I couldn’t afford to keep up with rentals during the lockdown. I tried for a couple of months but couldn’t keep up as there was no source of income.”
He however said he is trying to reengage with the landlord to see how they can resolve the matter.