Issue No. 46
9 October 1998
The purpose of the Liquor Bill, is both to address the desperate socio-economic consequences of liquor in our society. While recognising the economic benefits of the liquor industry. The apartheid regime used liquor regulation as a means of social control, social engineering and labour mobilisation. The NP Government passed laws that kept blacks from making and getting liquor, and whites used the “tot” system to pay black workers. The previous Government used a different approach to each of the two different constituencies, one of discrimination, lack of development and high levels of unemployment in black communities and one of concentrating massive wealth, political power and benefits in white communities.
South African Liquor Policy in Need of Change
The results of the apartheid liquor policy were countless raids, harassment, arrests, prosecutions and imprisonment of blacks. Also, it led to social break down, family violence, alcohol related disease, crime and accidents in poor black communities. A large illegal liquor trade started in our townships. Blacks responded to the policy with rising resistance and defiance to the policy by burning township beer halls. This caused the ANC Government to come up with a new policy which would balance the economic benefits of the liquor trade with the negative socio-economic consequences of using liquor.
The Contents of the New Liquor Policy
The Liquor Policy includes the following:
- Recognising liquor as a potentially harmful substance and promoting public education and social responsibility programmes
- Promoting maintenance and support structures for the rehabilitation of addicted and affected persons
- Controlling the production, distribution and sale of liquor and ensuring compliance by imposing strict penalties
- Correcting the inequities of discrimination through empowerment of the previously disadvantaged sections of society
- Creating jobs and economic growth
The Objects of the Liquor Bill
The main objects of the Bill are to maintain economic unity and crucial national standards in the liquor trade. It further aims to encourage and support the industry, and to manage and reduce the socio-economic and other costs of excessive alcohol consumption by
- Establishing a national administrative and controlling framework wherein the industry must operate
- Creating an environment which will
- promote the entry of new people into the industry
- take steps against those who operate outside the legal framework of the Bill
- consider the community concerns on the licensing of premises
Establishing Regulating Bodies
The Bill provides for the establishment of a representative National Liquor Advisory Committee (NLAC) which will:
- Advise the Minister of Trade and Industry or the MEC on any matter arising from the Act
- Evaluate and monitor trends in the liquor industry and promote research in this regard
- Develop and ensure the implementation of educational and social responsibility programmes on the potentially harmful effects of alcohol
The also provides for the National Liquor Authority which will:
- Approve or refuse applications for licensing to make and distribute liquor
- Cancel licenses
- Determine the conditions applicable to licensing, and
- Perform any other duties given to it by the Act
Provincial Liquor Authorities will be established by the Act which will also deal with the above functions and report to the Department of Trade and Industry.
Democratising the Liquor Industry
- Under Apartheid, the economic benefits of the liquor industry were of greater importance to the regime than the social well-being of the majority of the people of South Africa. In fact, the social health of blacks was strategically and deliberately worn away by the apartheid state. Under the ANC Government, the benefits of the liquor trade are balanced with the negative effects of alcohol abuse.
- The NP Government allowed black workers to be paid with alcohol, through the “tot” system, to keep them subdued and make them addicted and dependent on alcohol. The ANC has outlawed this practice because it is immoral and racist.
- The previous Government used the liquor trade to discriminate against, and promoted under-development in, black communities. At the same time, they used it to enrich whites and accumulate political power in the hands of the minority. The ANC Government will empower the previously disadvantaged by promoting their entry into the industry.
- Under the NP, family violence, crime and diseases were widespread in black communities because the Government wanted to create social disorder and decay in our townships. This served to confuse and leave the resistance against the racist state in disarray and disorganisation. This Bill will create a national body which will study the social impacts of alcohol consumption among the youth, and the effect of alcohol abuse on public health, social and family life. It will also introduce educational and social responsibility programmes on the effects of alcohol.
- Before the 1994, the Government used alcohol consumption and abuse to create unemployment in black communities to keep people impoverished. The ANC Government will use the liquor industry to create jobs for the poor and ensure economic growth.
- The Apartheid state used its political power to break down the social fibre that held black communities together in a racially inspired attempt to degrade and denigrate blacks. This took place over decades of deliberate discrimination and at the expense of huge suffering by the poor.
- This Bill re-affirms the ANC’s commitment to reversing the evils of apartheid and making South Africa a better place for all.