The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) has hit out at the Beer Association of South Africa’s (Basa) efforts to change the National Liquor Act by requesting that government allow beer on supermarket shelves.
The organisation said they simply will not accept beer being sold in supermarkets in the country.
Basa recently launched an online petition to bring beer to grocery store shelves to support South Africa’s brewers and fuel the economy.
Taking to social media, the non-profit organisation pleaded with South Africans to sign the petition. Current legislation prohibits the sale of beer in grocery stores, limiting consumer choice and creating an uneven playing field for passionate brewers.
However Saapa is having none of it.
“No, to beer on our supermarket shelves,” said Saapa spokesperson Terri-Liza Fortein.
“We simply cannot afford the negative monetary and social impact. South Africa already has too many challenges related to alcohol harm we do not need beer on our food shop shelves, it is not convent, it is harmful.”
“The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance in South Africa will strongly oppose the Beer Association of South Africa’s efforts to change the National Liquor Act and sell its harmful products in our food shops.”
Fortein says selling beer in supermarkets will increase the alcohol problem that South Africa already faces.
“South Africa rates fifth in the world in the amount of alcohol consumption among drinkers, in addition alcohol use plays a role in about half of all non-natural deaths in the country.”
“Currently South Africans who drink have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Statistics show that about one third of people in South Africa aged 15 and above drink. However, of those who drink, two thirds drink to the point of intoxication (i.e., binge drink), causing harm to themselves and others.”
“This practice also diverts government resources away from development priorities like managing alcohol related harm through policing, trauma admissions, social and disability grants and more.
“In addition, alcohol is a drug, albeit a legal one. Alcohol depresses the brain and slows down major functions such as breathing, heart rate, and thinking.”
Fortein added that alcohol is also a carcinogen and related to at least seven different cancers.
“It is within this environment that BASA has called to increase alcohol availability by selling beer in South Africa’s food shops.”
“The association has called for the Liquor Act to be changed to allow beer into food shops where South African families including minors get their groceries.”
In its current form the Act only allows for wine to be sold in food shops. The members of BASA are the main beer manufacturers in the country namely, CBASA (Craft Brewers Association South Africa), Heineken South Africa and South African Breweries.”
The structure according to its official website was established to “create a unified voice on issues affecting the beer industry and enhance beer culture in South Africa”.
“The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance strongly objects to beers on our food shops shelves and will be hosting live demonstrations, launching a petition and writing to the Minister of DTI Ebrahim Patel who the National Liquor Act sits with to reject this preposterous call from the beer association.”
Aadielah Maker Diedricks from the Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance said:they were totally against Basa’s latest request.
“We do not need beer in our food shops, there are enough places to buy beer. According to global trends, the government is supposed to be decreasing access to alcohol by limiting availability in the interest of public health.”
She added that supporting the move to allow beers into our food shops is supporting increased harm.
“If South Africans accept beers in supermarkets, they are accepting increased levels of gender-based violence; other interpersonal violence; child abuse and neglect. It will also mean more car crashes and increased school and university dropouts, as well as unsafe sex, leading to teenage pregnancies and STI/HIV transmission.”
The organisation has also hit out at Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi’s promotion of the concept of taverns of the future.
“As Premier and also in his previous positions as MEC, Lesufi was very clear on the challenges alcohol harm poses in our communities.”
“He is a role model to many, and his job is to put people before profits. As young people previously aspired to go to his schools of specialisation or be part of his Tshepo 1 million projects they will now aspire to go to these taverns of the future.”
“Politicians including but not limited to Lesufi must think clearly about the message they send about alcohol and remember they serve the people who put them in office and their priority is ensuring the public health of all South Africans.”
Saapa has also launched a petition on crowdfunding platform backabuddy to keep alcohol off food shelves.