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MEC Mabuyane welcomes passing of Eastern Cape Liquor Authority Bill

Dec 5, 2018
MEC Mabuyane welcomes passing of Eastern Cape Liquor Authority Bill

Eastern Cape MEC for Finance, Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Oscar Lubabalo Mabuyane, on Tuesday said that he welcomes the passing of the Eastern Cape Liquor Authority Bill by the provincial legislature during its sitting in Bhisho.

He explained that the Eastern Cape Liquor Authority Bill seeks to promote socio-economic growth and transformation within the alcohol industry, thereby creating economic opportunities for previously disadvantaged individuals and local communities in the Province.

"We want to do this so that all the people of the Eastern Cape interested to be in this sector also benefit from the economic value chain of the alcohol industry, which contributes R94.2 billion (4.4% in percentage terms) in the country’s GDP," Mabuyane said.

"While addressing economic development and transformation issues through this bill, we want the legislation to address all the concerns raised by the people of the Eastern Cape during the public hearings for this bill.

"I wish to express our utmost appreciation as the department to the Committee for the work it has done in considering the Liquor Authority Bill, which will assist the Province with respect to the licensing, regulation and control of retail sale and micro-manufacture of liquor."

Eastern Cape Liquor Authority Bill to help address alcohol abuse through unregulated trade

Mabuyane said that he must also appreciate the efforts of the portfolio committee in soliciting public inputs even though there were areas where key stakeholders did not pitch for public hearings.

"We must do more work in encouraging South Africans to meaningfully participate in such platforms in line with the principle of 'nothing about us, without us'.

"As the Province, we have the responsibility to bring unregulated alcohol trade under control. We need to curb the growing socioeconomic effects of alcohol abuse, particularly on the youth in our Province," he described.

"Our efforts must promote and uphold empowerment requirements and build capacity for enforcing compliance. This requires the strengthening of the intergovernmental relations.

"We are all aware that the alcohol industry has a significant 4.4% contribution to the GDP, economic growth and employment creation. This however must take into consideration our health objectives as government articulated in the National Development Plan."

Mabuyane said that in efforts to achieve health objectives and curb alcohol abuse, "we must take into cognisance the socio-economic conditions faced by our people. Because of their dependency, alcoholics and alcohol abusers are not as price sensitive and will always find a way to obtain liquor". 

"We therefore need to regulate the alcohol industry in full view of the situations our people are facing, given the high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

"We welcome and agree with the sentiments expressed by the public that South African Municipalities’ by-laws; with regards to liquor regulations must be standardized. South Africa is a unitary state and that should reflect in its character and laws.

"We have taken note of the input from the Sterkspruit community that requested the Department’s intervention regarding allegations of expired alcohol distributed by the South African Breweries. This is a serious allegation especially that it is alleged to be done by SAB. We will definitely make a follow up on that," the MEC described.

"It is important that we are against all illicit trading of liquor and not be concerned only when it is done by foreign nationals. Our attitude towards shops owned by foreign national must not border on xenophobic sentiments.

"We have also noted the concerns about the composition of the Eastern Cape Liquor Board, the processes used to appoint board members and the lack of inclusion of members of the liquor industry, especially local traders."

Eastern Cape Liquor Authority Bill will help government regulate liquor trading

Mabuyane said that this Bill will allow government to deal with all the allegations that are raised on the regulation of liquor trading in the Eastern Cape including approval of licenses without a Board sitting.

"We definitely agree and note the concerns raised by the public on the acceptable radius between liquor trading stores and schools, churches and education institutions."

The bill was passed by the legislature, with a noted objection by the Democratic Alliance (DA). It will now be signed into law by the Premier of the Eastern Cape.

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