The Democratic Alliance said it has released its position paper on the Draft Liquor Amendment Bill (DLAB) which has been tabled by the Minister of Trade Industry, Rob Davies for public comment.

The DA made its position known concerning the growing liquor intake by South Africans, especially among the underage.

The party said in its form that the Draft Liquor Amendment Bill will regulate alcohol abuse which the party said has become a serious problem in the society, costing the country dearly.

South Africa ranks as a country with one of the highest levels of per capita alcohol consumption in the world, with an average consumption of pure alcohol of 27.1 litres per drinker where abstainers in the population are excluded.

“We also know that alcohol abuse related issues cost our economy an estimated 7-10% of GDP, which equates to R165 – R236 billion per year,” the party said,

The DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Dean Macpherson MP noted that the bill has a number of problems. These includes:

  • The bill lacks the power to enforce alcohol-related legislation, which would ease the burden on law enforcement agencies and help to enable the better enforcement of existing legislation.
  • That raising the age limit to 21 years old is ill-considered in that (a) it will not prove to be an effective deterrent and (b) it will only increase the size and scope of the illicit trade in liquor by driving it underground. It will also criminalise what is normal and acceptable behaviour, while those who abuse alcohol will continue to do so.

Maimane’s party noted that it will be moving for these changes to be included during the committee phase of the Draft Liquor Amendment Bill.

“It is clear that the DLAB does not go far enough in addressing a number of important issues. Nor does the current and envisaged legislation adequately take into consideration the impact of alcohol-related harms on society, the costs born to the State and the ability to enforce practical legislation through empowered enforcement.

“Through the committee process, the proposed Bill must be amended to address the problem of fragmented legislation in order to allow for the co-ordination of existing resources. Furthermore it must simplify the process to prove alcohol-related offences while increasing the sanctions, especially on outlets that continue to violate licensing conditions. Most importantly, increasing the number of liquor law enforcement officials to allow the law to be effectively implemented to protect society. Coupled with this, an amended Bill must lessen the financial burden on cities and provinces to carry the financial costs associated with alcohol-related harms,” Dean Macpherson MP stated.

The party’s shadow minister maintained that in the amendment bill, it would be proposing for additional controls relating to liquor wholesalers; Revocation of licenses for repeat offenders; Cost Recovery; and that the scope for people to enforce the Act, including Peace Officers be widened, among others.