Statement by the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Nomalungelo Gina at the Media Briefing of the National Liquor Authority Festive Season Campaign Against the Abuse of Alcohol in South Africa  – Durban

We are already in the middle of the 2019 Festive Season. As usual, many South Africans having taken their well-deserved leaves for resting with their love ones. It is this time of the year where we experience the high level of alcohol and substance abuse. Alcohol binge drinking in South Africa during this season has gone to unacceptable levels with the results that, each year, government collects statistics of road accidents and deaths caused mainly by drink and driving. Many violent killings and assault cases that the SAPS deals with during this season, to a larger degree, alcohol plays a huge part.

The preeminent position that alcohol consumption occupies during December time is driving many South Africans to spend a lot of their hard earned money to these intoxicating substances such that they are left with nothing in January for children who must go back to school and to institutions of higher learning. It is because of this reality that many South Africans resort to micro credit lenders, omashonisa, for borrowing. The debt burden especially to our black households is, in part, caused by this lack of financial management and over-indulgence to alcohol.

We are a drinking nation and therefore have an alcohol-drinking problem as a country. South Africa ranks amongst the leading countries in the World for heavy drinking levels!

As the dti, through our National Liquor Authority (NLA) and provincial Authorities, we are an Authority that issues Liquor licenses for all Liquor outlets in the country. The NLA is charged with the responsibility of regulating the macro manufacturing and distribution tiers in the liquor industry. We have made a resolve to take responsibility of educating the nation about the dangers and the effects of alcohol abuse, we are stemming the tide against the mushrooming of illegal Liquor traders around the country and those traders who violates their Liquor trading hours by extending them for themselves in order to cash on the demands by the consumers. Related to this, is the deliberate turning of a blind eye by the traders on children under the ages of 18 in the shebeens and other drinking environments.

The Youth Research Unit of the bureau of market Research in three College of Economic and Management Sciences at UNISA (2012) released a survey on drug and alcohol use in Gauteng youth as a litmus test for the whole country in relation to school going youth. The research identified that learners often find themselves in an environment where illicit drugs and alcohol are easily accessible and used by their peers which therefore makes it easy for them to experiment. Almost three in every ten learners (26.9%) who participated in the research study confirmed that they are using drugs, of which Cannabis (dagga) remains the most popular at 95.4%. About 79.4% of students regularly consumes alcohol. There is strong evidence that alcohol drinking by the youth is an entry point to a more serious use of drugs. If we do not intervene to our youth, our future citizens, then we will have a distorted future society that is heavily deep-seated in alcohol and drug abuse. Unfortunately, our Liquor legislation regulates the selling of Liquor and not the consumption of it. That is why we have such campaigns.

One of the objectives of the National Liquor Act 59 of 2003 is reduce the socio-economic and other costs of alcohol abuse. This means that when the National Liquor Authority implements the Act, it has to ensure that this objective is achieved. The primary mandate of all the liquor Authorities is to ensure that the harm associated with abuse is reduced. As liquor regulators, we have to the lead in determining the areas of focus and interventions in the interest of the public as approved by the National Liquor policy council, which is constituted by the Minister of the dti and MECs of the provinces.

For this year, we have begun this awareness campaign on 28 November 2019 through targeting big Malls and other public areas in the country. We started in Gauteng, Pretoria, at Soshanguve Mall Crossings, Limpopo in Pick n Pay Taxi Rank, North West in Ganyesa Taxi Rank, Northern Cape in Galeshewe Plaza, Eastern Cape in Uitenhage Shopping Centre, and we are in KwaZulu Natal. This year’s campaign is hosted under the theme: stay sober 99.

I am pleased that in KwaZulu Natal we are having this campaign jointly with the provincial government. We cannot win this fight alone unless we join hands as government at all levels and society to fight his scourge together. We are looking forward to that partnership and cooperation that we must cement and build on, in future activities. KwaZulu Natal is particularly important at this time of the Festive Season as many holidaymakers come to this province, especially in Durban. There are many entertainment and recreational activities throughout December involving a lot of alcohol usage. It is this province that is often leading in road carnage numbers during December, it is this province of KwaZulu Natal that is always leading on the numbers of those who are arrested for drink and driving than any other province.

We are going to conduct joint operations today with the SAPS to visit Liquor outlets around the Durban CBD and use the opportunity to engage with our people in educating them about the dangers of abusing alcohol substances. Our team, working with provincial counterparts and Social Development, would be engaging with the public today and tomorrow in public spaces, which are over concentrated such as beachfront and other areas.

We want to call on all South Africans not to glorify the use of alcohol. Whereas its trade is legal and the industry is one of the largest contributor to the economy, but we must counterbalance this pointing out consistently, the negative effects it brings to families especially the breadwinners, the young within the families and the communities. These negative effects also affects the economy through the drop of productivity. A winning nation with the prospects of a rising economy cannot achieve those in a society with high level of drinking habit.

-Thank you-

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