Gaut­eng Liquor Act

Finweek English Edition - - NEWS - Buhle Nd­weni buhlen@fin­week.co.za

The Gaut­eng Liquor Act draft, in­tro­duced to the Gaut­eng Leg­is­la­ture last month to pro­pose an amend­ment to the 2003 Liquor Act, has caused a stir among busi­nesses and con­sumers alike. The new Gaut­eng by-law, planned to be im­ple­mented by June, is ex­pected to ban the sell­ing of al­co­hol on Sun­days at all es­tab­lish­ments in the province where al­co­hol is con­sumed on the premises. Ac­cord­ing to the pro­posed bill, this will in­clude liquor trad­ing in restau­rants, sports fa­cil­i­ties (sport clubs), pubs, she­beens, tav­erns, the­atres and func­tion venues.

Many of th­ese busi­nesses start sell­ing al­co­hol from 12:00, but r est r i c t ed t r ad­ing hours i n Gaut­eng may soon see them only per­mit­ted to start af­ter 14:00 and un­til a set time in the evening. Gaut­eng MEC for Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment, Qedani Mahlangu, has been re­ported in the me­dia as say­ing th­ese tighter al­co­hol reg­u­la­tions have been pro­posed as a means of im­prov­ing the qual­ity of life of peo­ple liv­ing next to she­beens in town­ships.

Sim­i­larly, the West­ern Cape Liquor Act was im­ple­mented at the end of last month as a means of curb­ing al­co­hol abuse and vio- lence in that province. This Act pro­hibits the sale of al­co­hol on Sun­days and af­ter 18:00 on Mon­days to Satur­days, ex­cept if an es­tab­lish­ment has ap­plied for and re­ceived an ex­emp­tion. This has raised con­cern among liquor-trad­ing busi­nesses that more liquor will now be sold at il­le­gal out­lets.

The KwaZulu-Natal government is re­port­edly plan­ning to do the op­po­site by al­low­ing liquor trade on Sun­days. One of the rea­sons given for this in­clude coun­ter­ing the trade of il­le­gal al­co­hol.

Leon Louw, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Free Mar­ket Foun­da­tion, says the pro­posed changes for Gaut­eng have left him won­der­ing “if Ver­wo­erd’s ghost oc­cu­pied the minds of Gaut­eng leg­is­la­tors.”

“What they have in mind are black peo­ple. They don’t have in mind white peo­ple liv­ing in Bryanston who they think are go­ing to abuse liquor. They have in mind that black South Africans aren’t re­spon­si­ble enough to be given the free­dom to de­cide when and where they drink al­co­hol,” Louw says. “I’m fas­ci­nated by the think­ing that peo­ple are in­tel­li­gent enough to vote for you, but too stupid to de­cide how to live their lives. This is weird and an ob­vi­ous con­tra­dic­tion.”

New re­stric­tions on the le­gal al­co­hol trade are bound to boost the ex­ist­ing un­der­ground al­co­hol econ­omy, sim­i­lar to when the she­been cul­ture grew dur­ing

apartheid. White peo­ple would break racial bar­ri­ers by buy­ing al­co­hol from she­beens on Sun­days, re­mem­bers Louw, a former lawyer who spe­cialised in liquor laws in the Six­ties. Then there’s the ef­fect on the tourism in­dus­try. Louw says the pro­posed changes in Gaut­eng would put emerg­ing black-owned al­co­hol traders out of busi­ness on an un­prece­dented scale and re­sult in job losses.

Will the new Gaut­eng law ac­tu­ally re­duce al­co­hol con­sump­tion? Not likely, says Louw. Like what hap­pened with to­bacco leg­is­la­tion, at­tempts at curb­ing con­sump­tion might just lead to fur­ther al­co­hol abuse. In­stead of putting in place pro­hi­bi­tion laws mim­ick­ing apartheid-era leg­is­la­tion, Louw ar­gues, con­sump­tion could be curbed through ed­u­ca­tion and per­sua­sion; by trust­ing peo­ple and treat­ing them like adults.

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