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Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s proposed ban of alcohol advertising is a temporary palliative, writes Moshoeshoe Monare.
Johannesburg - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi this week accused the alcohol industry of arrogance and that they were averse to his impending drastic regulation of alcohol advertising.
It is interesting that while the industry and some of us are questioning his rationale of trying to ban alcohol advertising, SAB has admitted to the colossal power of advertising in turning this country into the land of the intoxicated. Perhaps we should consider replacing the ears of wheat on our code of arms with barley and hops.
SAB’s own statistics could prod any health minister to impulsively consider a drastic policy review.
In the 2005 case of Laugh it off v SAB International – in which the company tried to gag the social satirist from lampooning its brand Black Label – the brewer told the court how the effect of advertising translated their brand into billions of rand.
In his ruling, Justice Dikgang Moseneke quoted SAB’s submission thus: “The product’s reputation has progressed to become one of the leading beer products in the country. The volume of sales of Black Label beer for the 2000/2001 financial year is said to have exceeded 1.4 billion 340ml bottles. This, we are assured, translates to 350 bottles of 340ml for every man, woman and child of all 40 million of us in this country. SAB points out that these excellent beer sales volumes are owed to the Black Label brand whose market popularity derives from costly, concerted and pervasive advertising in the form of sport sponsorships, television, radio, print media, coasters, posters, flags, T-shirts, billboards and advertising on taxis.”
I am unenthusiastic about banning advertising, especially when it is not targeting children but people old enough to make decisions – mostly not influenced by adverts – about drinking themselves into a stupor.
The problem arises when their intoxication leads to other road users’ death and ruined families. However, other laws – such as strict traffic policing and curatorship – should deal with such drunks and prodigals.
But if advertising is directly responsible for 350 bottles of 340ml for every man, woman and child “of all 40 million of us in this country”, I can understand Motsoaledi’s anger, but his solution is a temporary palliative.
*On a different matter, Crime Intelligence wants to use apartheid police minister Jimmy Kruger’s Protection of State of Information Act to demand documents from us.
It is the same act that is being repealed on the basis that some of its sections are unconstitutional. It is the same law that contains a clause defining the ANC as a “hostile and unlawful organisation”.
The irony of it all is that when democrats buckle under pressure, they nostalgically and adoringly invoke the tools of oppression.
Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi invoked the national key point law to suppress accountability in the Nkandlagate matter.
Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj also tried to use an apartheid law to prosecute the Mail&Guardian in 2011.
It might sound like an amusing irony, but the sadness is when individuals, who are the guardians of our freedoms and founders of this great nation such as Maharaj, believe demeaning racist laws can be a shield against an open society.
* Moshoeshoe Monare is editor of the Sunday Independent.
** The views expressed here are noty necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.
The Sunday Independent