State urged to withdraw 'impractical' liquor bill
While liquor industry bodies acknowledged the impracticality of one of the provisions in Gauteng's draft liquor bill on Monday, a lawyer has urged the government to withdraw the bill.
The bill would curb investment in shopping centres in Gauteng, attorney Leon Slotow, who specialises in licensing, said Monday, 6 February.
"The legislation makes holding a licence so risky that no one with any money would be suitably insane enough to invest in a licensed business," he said.
"Any licensed business can be closed at the whim of an inspector; the rules are too strict."
Slotow said the bill was the most ill-conceived, confused and badly worded attempt at legislation he had ever read.
"It is amateurish, impractical and the person who drafted it clearly has not tried to prepare an application or attempted to obtain the necessary municipal consent or the documents required for an application.
"Gauteng should have known better than to introduce requirements relying on the municipal authorities after the North West tried and failed. This should have been tried in practice first before publishing a draft bill.
"The bill should be withdrawn, and after discussion with the municipal authorities and players in the liquor world, be published as a working document. It cannot go through in its current form. All this is a challenge to the industry to comment extensively to help the authorities go back to the drawing board to get a workable solution."
Slotow said there was no doubt liquor was a dangerous substance which needed proper controls, and one way to do this was for government to create a think-tank.
Most industry bodies were concerned with one of the clauses that forbade licensees from selling alcohol to minors, a person dressed in a school uniform, a person who reasonably appears to be intoxicated or a pregnant woman.
Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use director Adrian Botha said the industry body supported the prohibitions in principle but some could be hard to enforce.
"We believe we should create awareness around drinking while pregnant, as foetal alcohol syndrome is a problem in SA, but I foresee problems in enforcing it," he said.
"How does one tell if a woman is pregnant? And a pregnant woman may well be buying alcohol for her family and friends and not to consume herself," Botha said.
The South African Liquor Traders Association's head, Saint Madlala, said the government had its support. "We believe unborn children have rights too, we cannot support the practice of drinking while pregnant."
He acknowledged the impracticality of enforcing the clause and said wide-scale education programmes should be put in place.
"Mothers-to-be must be made aware of the dangers of drinking while pregnant," Madlala said.
The Democratic Alliance's Gauteng spokesman on economic development, Gavin Lewis, said the pregnant woman provision was likely to have "all sorts of unanticipated consequences in the law courts".
Source: Business Day
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