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Liquor law not tenable – union

Picture: REUTERS

Picture: REUTERS

Published Dec 5, 2016

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Johannesburg

- South Africa is already mired in the complexity of having more than 40

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national and provincial liquor-related policies and regulations, as well as

countless municipal by-laws, and the proposed Draft Liquor Amendment Bill of

2016 is all set to complicate the liquor regulatory environment even more.  

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This is

the view of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa’s (FEDHASA)

CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa.

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“There

is currently a confusing and fragmented proliferation of legislation which

raises significant challenges and difficulties in effectively regulating the

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liquor trade in South Africa,” he says. “Instead of addressing this, the

proposed Amendment Bill instead fosters even more issues.”

FEDHASA

represents the interests of more than 10 000 direct and associate members in

the South African hospitality industry including hotels, B&Bs, guest

houses, game lodges, restaurants, pubs, taverns, shebeens, conference centres

and casinos.  In its submission to the Department of Trade and Industry

(DTI), FEDHASA has called on the Director-General to persuade provincial

governments to adopt a standardised, pragmatic approach to all aspects of

liquor licencing and liquor trading in South Africa.

“What would

make sense,” Tshifhiwa points out “is that the DTI works towards a single

national liquor act, a single provincial liquor act and a single bylaw that

provides for the trading days and hours of on- and off-consumption liquor

licenced establishments which can be enforced by all local municipalities”.

Read also:  Liquor bill submission deadline shift

However,

it is not just the possibility of a promulgation of yet another piece of

liquor-related regulation that concerns FEDHASA. “Unfortunately, the draft

legislation has also not been subjected to economic impact assessment,” says

Tshifhiwa. “If this law comes into effect, several of the proposed amendments

will have detrimental impacts on all the many stable, good businesses that are

making an important contribution to our economy. Some of the amendments will be

all but impossible to regulate, thus placing an extraordinary burden on the administrators

responsible for controlling the liquor trade in South Africa.”

Amongst

the controversial proposals is the prohibition of selling alcohol to citizens

or visitors between the ages of 18 and 21.

Not Constitutional

FEDHASA

points out that, in regard to South Africans, this age range could simply be

unconstitutional.  “If a citizen between the ages of 18 and 21 is eligible

to join the defence force, vote, drive a motor vehicle, get married and enter

into a legal contract, they should undoubtedly be permitted to consume alcohol

in a responsible manner,” Tshifhiwa notes.

Apart

from encroaching on personal freedom, the raising of the age limit for legal

drinking would have a damaging impact on hospitality businesses particularly in

university and holiday towns.

Another

problematic clause is this one regarding the proximity of a liquor-licenced

establishment:

The manufacturing, distribution or retail

sale of liquor in either rural or urban community is prohibited on any location

that is less than five hundred (500) metres away from schools, place of

worship, recreational facilities, rehabilitation or treatment centres,

residential areas, public institutions and other like amenities.

“This is

an astonishing proposal and yet another example of how this draft bill seems

not to have been thought through properly at all.” Tshifhiwa says, “Most of the

country’s B&B’s and guesthouses, local neighbourhood restaurants, many

hotels across the way from say a park or a beach promenade and lots of pubs

down the road from post offices would all be unable to secure a liquor

licence.  It would literally mean that the only establishments that could

sell liquor in South Africa would be far out in the wilderness somewhere. 

It is clearly not a practical or beneficial idea.”

Part of

the problem, Tshifhiwa points out, is that the proposed Act has not been

subject to an economic impact assessment process. “This is something we would

welcome,” he says. “There would then be absolute clarity for all parties on how

this legislation would affect the country’s vital hospitality sector.”

Comments

on the Draft Liquor Amendment Bill 2016 from interested stakeholders and the

public will have closed on December 15.

*Adapted from a press release

BUSINESS REPORT

 

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