The South African Alcohol Policy Alliance (Saapa) yesterday welcomed the announcement by the Gauteng Liquor Board (GLB) that it has reconsidered its earlier decision to extend the selling hours of liquor outlets for the period of the ANC 105th birthday celebrations.
There were a number of reasons why the proposal was inappropriate, Saapa said.
One of the key mandates of the GLB was to ensure alcohol was not consumed in ways harmful to health and broader society – and lifting an evidence-based restriction on selling hours would have opened ANC members and others to the likelihood of alcohol-related harms.
The GLB said outlets that were granted extended hours would have to undertake that “the noise levels generated from the premises will not cause unacceptable disturbance or nuisance to neighbours”.
Saapa believed such an assertion was without foundation, since it knew liquor authorities are unable to ensure such compliance under ordinary circumstances.
“The Gauteng MEC for economic development, Lebogang Maile, said ‘section 3 and section 33 of the Gauteng Liquor Act of 2003 … grants the GLB the discretion to amend liquor licensing conditions such as trading times’.
“That may be so, but this would have been the first time this had been done since the passing of the Gauteng Liquor Act in 2003 and it was extremely worrying that the first-ever application of this provision happened to be for an event of the ruling party,” Saapa said.
“Would the Gauteng Liquor Board, which is accountable to the ANC-led department of economic development, have agreed to do this for any other political party or organisation?”
It said making an exception for a political party was both a poor reflection on the integrity and independence of the country’s regulatory system and on the party.
Fortunately, some parts of the ANC saw sense, with Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula saying the ANC did not “support” the extension and the ANC Women’s League condemning the proposal, Saapa said.