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The Mozambican government’s National Inspectorate of Economic Affairs (INAE) on Wednesday allowed the Café Continental in central Maputo to reopen, but the café’s manager refused to take any responsibility for the filthy conditions that had provoked the closure.
INAE inspectors ordered the closure of the Café Continental on 31 January because it regarded the kitchens and storerooms as a threat to public health. Rubbish had accumulated in the storerooms and corridors, pets were allowed into areas where food was served, and the sole bathroom for the restaurant workers was in a deplorable condition.
The establishment cleaned up its act sufficiently for INAE to allow it to re-open, but when the independent newssheet “Mediafax” asked its manager, Eduardo da Costa, what measures he planned to take to keep the restaurant clean, he thrust the entire blame for the situation onto the shoulders of the work force.
“Every day the workers have the right to liquid soap, bleach and other detergents”, he said. “If they don’t clean the place, it’s not my fault”.
When the journalists tried again, asking Costa what lessons he drew from the closure of the Continental, he claimed that the only people who had anything to learn were the workers. He was only concerned with the losses the restaurant had suffered during the two weeks it had been closed.
“My lesson is just the expense”, he said. “I don’t have any lesson to learn. The workers will have to draw their own lessons about this”.
Despite Costa’s refusal to take any responsibility, INAE deputy general inspector Acacio Foia told reporters he was pleased that the restaurant had done more than INAE had demanded, including painting the floor and the workers’ bathroom.
But more was required to avoid future problems, he said, including improving the ventilation in the storeroom, and regular fumigation to keep out cockroaches and other insect pests.
So far, in its drive to improve hygiene in restaurants and bakeries, INAE has resorted to administrative measures – but Foia believed the time has come for criminal proceedings. He said that in future INAE will channel all cases involving the sale of foodstuffs past their expiry date to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
“This isn’t a witch-hunt, and we have no interest in simply closing down institutions”, said Foia. “What we want is to safeguard the health of the consumers”.Source: AIM