The up­side of longer trad­ing

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS -

More car­toons online at Unathi Son­wa­bile He­nama is a tourism re­searcher and writes in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity.

AS A tourism ex­pert, I was in 100 per­cent sup­port of the Gaut­eng Liquor Board de­ci­sion to ex­tend the op­er­at­ing hours for liquor out­lets for the week­end, when the ANC will be host­ing its an­nual birth­day cel­e­bra­tion at Or­lando Sta­dium.

The old­est lib­er­a­tion move­ment in Africa re­mains a mass demo­cratic move­ment that at­tracts thou­sands of sup­port­ers when­ever it hosts events.

Its mass ap­peal re­mains ro­bust even af­ter it was hum­bled dur­ing the Au­gust 3 lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

Gaut­eng busi­nesses from street hawk­ers, ac­com­mo­da­tion providers and the en­tire tourism-value chain will ben­e­fit. Any at­tempt to en­sure that Gaut­eng busi­nesses ben­e­fit more from the cel­e­bra­tions must be com­mended, and where there is a need for crit­i­cism, let the crit­i­cism be de­vel­op­men­tal.

The ANC did not ap­ply to the Gaut­eng Liquor Board for an ex­ten­sion of the op­er­at­ing hours to take ad­van­tage of the thou­sands of tourists who will at­tend the event. Gaut­eng-based liquor busi­nesses sought the spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion liquor li­cences for the Jan­uary 6 to 8 pe­riod.

I have at­tended sev­eral Jan­uary 8 cel­e­bra­tions and they are al­co­hol-free zones guarded by se­cu­rity and mar­shals en­sur­ing there is law and or­der.

The ANC Women’s League is­sued a state­ment against the ex­ten­sion, which started a snow­ball ef­fect that dom­i­nated the na­tional dis­course.

The Gaut­eng Liquor Board canned the ex­ten­sion, bow­ing to im­mense pub­lic outcry af­ter con­sult­ing Gaut­eng Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment MEC Le­bo­gang Maile.

All I know is that sooner than later, the spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion liquor li­cence will re-emerge, watch this space.

Un­for­tu­nately, our na­tional dis­course is de­fined by a con­tin­uum of those against and those for, which leaves very lit­tle space for proper en­gage­ment as our pub­lic dis­course is dom­i­nated by foam­ing at the mouth and shout­ing at the top of our voices.

This makes find­ing the mid­dle ground so much more dif­fi­cult, when one seeks to high­light the mer­its and the de­mer­its.

I have been a res­i­dent of Gaut­eng for the past 10 years, and dur­ing re­cess pe­ri­ods that in­clude De­cem­ber, I take the tra­di­tional trips out­side the prov­ince to places

Ex­ten­sion of liquor op­er­at­ing hours would bring huge ben­e­fits to host cities for cel­e­bra­tions

which we call “home” away from Gaut­eng.

Gaut­eng re­mains the most pop­u­lated prov­ince and con­tin­ues to drive the econ­omy of South Africa.

The high dis­pos­able in­come of Gaut­eng res­i­dents has led to other prov­inces all seek­ing to en­sure that they ben­e­fit from the tourism Madibas from Gaut­eng.

Unof­fi­cially the lan­guage of Gaut­eng Tourism is that you must keep the res­i­dents off the beaches, and en­sure that they spend most of their money within Gaut­eng.

The mass ex­o­dus from Gaut­eng neg­a­tively af­fects busi­nesses as some tem­po­rar­ily close down af­ter the silly sea­son, mean­ing salaries are lost as there is lit­tle to no busi­ness.

The out­ward mi­gra­tion of those who work in Gaut­eng means that dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son, Gaut­eng is robbed of the highly sought af­ter in­come that is spent in ur­ban and ru­ral economies out­side the prov­ince.

A glance at the news usu­ally in­di­cates that all the ma­jor roads are dom­i­nated by traf­fic com­ing to Gaut­eng at the end of the fes­tive sea­son while the re­sort towns lo­cated on the more than 2000km of coast­line will be smil­ing all the way to the bank af­ter ex­ploit­ing the wal­lets of those who would have de­scended on their towns and cities.

I had the plea­sure of see­ing many mi­grant work­ers from Pre­to­ria in Polok­wane at­tend­ing the Ma­pun­gubwe Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, which was an event that sought to in­crease the ex­pen­di­ture of lo­cals and do­mes­tic tourists who visit a place they call home.

I have been to sev­eral towns and cities dur­ing this sea­son and ob­served a plethora of out­lets that have ex­tended their op­er­at­ing hours with­out ap­proval be­cause they were re­spond­ing to the masses that had de­scended on their des­ti­na­tions. I would be the first to agree that there is a na­tional prob­lem of drink­ing and driv­ing which is linked to the night time econ­omy which is pri­mary en­ter­tain­ment led, and foodand-bev­er­age-led around clubs, bars and restau­rants.

It is the same night time econ­omy that cre­ates jobs which we all need des­per­ately. Com­pa­nies such as Uber have been able to re­duce the chal­lenges of drink­ing and driv­ing in response to con­cerns linked to the ex­tended op­er­at­ing hours.

Pub­lic outcry does not cre­ate jobs, nor put food on the ta­ble.

The tsunami of pub­lic outcry, tainted with po­lit­i­cal “haga-haga” has neg­a­tively af­fected a very cre­ative strat­egy that would have been of ben­e­fit to the econ­omy of Gaut­eng and an op­por­tu­nity for a sec­ond fes­tive sea­son.

There is a tourism ben­e­fit in events such as Jan­uary 8 cel­e­bra­tions for host cities.

LET IT FLOW: Gaut­eng busi­nesses, from street hawk­ers and ac­com­mo­da­tion providers to the en­tire tourism value chain, would ben­e­fit from ex­tended liquor trad­ing hours, says the writer.

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