Town­ship busi­ness lob­bies ready for bat­tle

CityPress - - Business - DEWALD VAN RENS­BURG dewald.vrens­burg@city­press.co.za

Or­gan­ised tav­ern own­ers and other hospi­tal­ity busi­nesses in town­ships in Gaut­eng are gear­ing up to fight the new draft Liquor Amend­ment Bill, as well as an ex­pected amend­ment to the To­bacco Prod­ucts Con­trol Amend­ment Act, which hasn’t been pub­lished yet.

The SA Liquor Traders’ As­so­ci­a­tion, the Gaut­eng Liquor Fo­rum and the Na­tional Tourism and Hospi­tal­ity As­so­ci­a­tion have made com­bined sub­mis­sions to the bill, which was gazetted last month by Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Rob Davies.

At a me­dia brief­ing on Thurs­day, they specif­i­cally at­tacked the pro­posal to ban the re­tail of liquor within 500m of “schools, places of wor­ship, recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties, re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion or treat­ment cen­tres, res­i­den­tial ar­eas, pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions and other like ameni­ties”.

This au­to­mat­i­cally crim­i­nalises all tav­erns that do busi­ness in a dense town­ship, they ar­gue.

This is de­spite the liquor bill con­tain­ing a spe­cial pro­vi­sion that ex­empts ex­ist­ing li­censed busi­nesses and “ar­eas with the high­est pop­u­la­tion den­sity” from the 500m rule.

The same groups made a sim­i­lar at­tack on pro­posed new to­bacco reg­u­la­tions in 2013, which pro­posed ban­ning smok­ing in­doors and within 10m of an en­trance of a build­ing.

While those to­bacco reg­u­la­tions were not put into ef­fect, the town­ship busi­ness groups spent much of their brief­ing at­tack­ing Health Min­is­ter Aaron Mot­soaledi’s stated in­ten­tion to re­vive them and add more anti-smok­ing rules.

Na­tional Tourism and Hospi­tal­ity As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Fanny Mokoena said pol­i­cy­mak­ers had not “taken into ac­count how this will work in a town­ship”.

“These laws do not af­fect big white busi­ness. This prob­lem is faced by small black busi­ness. No one says stop pro­duc­ing al­co­hol. They say close down the she­beens,” she said.

Mishack Hlophe, the pres­i­dent of the SA Liquor Traders’ As­so­ci­a­tion, said the town­ship busi­ness groups had been as­sisted by SA Brew­eries in draft­ing their sub­mis­sions.

This fol­lows sim­i­lar as­sis­tance given to the same groups by to­bacco gi­ant Philip Mor­ris to draft a po­si­tion against the 2013 to­bacco reg­u­la­tions. “We ask big busi­ness to as­sist us to draft sub­mis­sions,” he said. “Bills are not writ­ten by gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials – they use liquor ex­perts, so we need liquor minds for our sub­mis­sion,” he said.

Asked what he would pro­pose as an al­ter­na­tive to the prob­a­ble fu­ture re­stric­tions to smok­ing in pub­lic, Hlophe said that the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion worked well. “Peo­ple nor­mally go out­side. It is work­ing. Peo­ple are happy.” The group­ings also take is­sue with rais­ing the le­gal drink­ing age to 21 and to the even­tual in­ten­tion by gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce plain-pack­ag­ing rules for cig­a­rettes.

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