Thandiswa Mazwai and others call Panyaza Lesufi out on ‘taverns of the future’ campaign

Premier Panyaza Lesufi at the Heineken Brewery in Sedibeng. The ‘taverns of the future’ project is spearheaded by Heineken, in partnership with the Gauteng government. Picture: X

Premier Panyaza Lesufi at the Heineken Brewery in Sedibeng. The ‘taverns of the future’ project is spearheaded by Heineken, in partnership with the Gauteng government. Picture: X

Published Nov 17, 2023


The Premier of Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, proved once again that politicians are not to be trusted.

In 2019/2020, Lesufi was one of the people who were vocal about building an alcohol-free South Africa. He would shame alcohol every chance he got because it was one of the substances that contributed to the dysfunction of our communities.

According to an article published by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) in 2020, alcohol kills people across all walks of life in our country, especially men and people from low and middle socio-economic levels of society.

“In 2015, it was estimated that between 27 000 and 103 000 people in South Africa died because of alcohol – ie between 74 and 282 adults per day.

“In terms of the economic cost incurred by the country, the data is somewhat dated but it is still possible to make some causal inferences regarding the burden incurred,” the SAMRC reported.

If you live in the township, you would know that the hood has little to no recreational facilities where the youth can do sports and other activities that will keep them off the streets.

You would also know that there are several shebeens and taverns in the hood, some of which are close to schools.

For example, in Protea Glen, there is the Casban Bottle store and Jack’s Inn, both less than 2km from Basa Tutorial and Faranani Primary School. Protea Glen Secondary School is near the Zwelibanzi Tavern.

However, there isn’t even a public swimming pool in Protea Glen. That is why many young people are hooked on alcohol and other substances.

In the previous years, Lesufi started a campaign called #AlcoholFreeSA to decrease the Abuse of alcohol in our communities.

Panyaza Lesufi went from this to supporting alcohol.

“The problems of alcohol are real. This problem of alcohol needs brave soldiers, not the faint-hearted. An alcohol-free South Africa is possible, let’s build it, now! #AlcoholFreeSA,” wrote Lesufi in 2019.

In 2020, he said: “I differ, strongly so on the use and sale of alcohol. I’ve stated this view before. This drug is costly and ruthless and should be defeated. It has no value in building a healthy society.

“My teachings are clear, protect the weak, the poor, the vulnerable, and fight racism at all times.”

A screenshot from Panyaza Lesufi’s tweets advocating against alcohol.

A few years later, he contradicts himself and starts a new campaign to open more taverns in the communities, claiming he’s growing Gauteng, even when there is evidence that alcohol is a danger to society.

“Today, we received a full briefing to launch taverns of the future in our communities. The tavern of the future will blow your mind. Thanks to the new Heineken Vision. Exciting times indeed #GrowingGautengTogether.”

People responded to him by asking him what happened to #AlcoholFreeSA, and he said his individual preferences were not above investments.

“When I lead government, it’s not about my personal views but attracting investments and creating jobs and opportunities for all. My standpoint on alcohol remains,” he said.

People like Thandiswa Mazwai challenged him, saying instead of wanting to use alcohol to create jobs and opportunities, as he claims, he must do it through progressive skills such as art, education and sports.

“What we should be thinking about Mr @Lesufi, is how to bring more arts and science centres for the future of our kids. The ‘black’ community is already drowning in booze. Especially bored young people!

“The tavern of the future is only here to cement the destruction of black people,” said the musician.

“You could be upgrading kasi schools. Many have remained the same since I was a kid! No sports grounds, no music or arts centre!!! Also, the kasi is full of unemployed people who drink to forget, and you do this?”

Almost everyone who commented on Lesufi’s post was dragging him for being a traitor. Some even reminded him that while he was spearheading a campaign to build more taverns, the main library of the City of Johannesburg remained closed – since 2020.

“Twenty on kids died at Enyobeni. Fifteen killed in a mass shooting in Soweto. Four were killed in a mass shooting in Pietermaritzburg. Two killed in a mass shooting in Katlehong. These occurred within two weeks.

“Additionally, drunk driving contributes to approximately 27.1% of fatal accidents, not to mention the violence the nation is subjected to resulting from alcohol. Now, a whole government official is promoting taverns. You are a disgrace @Lesufi!” said activist @sheabutterhun.

Lesufi does not appear to be bothered that no bright future has ever been built by alcohol. His main aim is to keep the investors happy, even if that means increasing access to a “drug that is costly, and ruthless”.

Below are more reactions from people who responded to his post about “Future Taverns”.