KZN draft Liquor Bill tackles alcohol abuse

South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial economic development and tourism Minister Roger Burrows has released the draft Liquor Licencing Bill for public comment and input.

Releasing the draft legislation at a media briefing on Friday, government news agency BuaNews reported that the member of the executive committee (MEC) said the current legislation, the Liquor Act of 1989, was outdated and inefficient in its application.

However, trade and industry Minister Alec Erwin earlier this year tabled the National Liquor Bill, which is currently being reworked, under which provinces are required to enact such legislation.

Burrows called for written comments to be sent to the department by 15 August in order to have legislation in place by the end of this year.

“It is currently a draft Bill and not set in concrete, Burrows noted. “After the consideration of comments, the draft Bill will be submitted to cabinet and then to the provincial Parliament for consideration,” he said.

He said copies of the draft Bill would be made available to interested parties and various advertisements had been placed in various publications calling for comment in this regard. The draft Bill provides for the retail sale of liquor, regulation of micro manufacturing of alcohol substances, manufacture and the sale of sorghum beer.

In addition, it seeks to address and reduce the economic and social costs of excessive alcohol consumption. The draft Bill also aims to establish a KwaZulu-Natal Liquor Licensing Authority, which will be a public entity in terms of the Public Finance Management Act of 1999. It will also ensure procedures for the nomination and appointment of members of the authority, chief executive and staff.

The draft Bill also provides for an Appeal Tribunal for the handling of liquor licence appeals as well as the determination of categories of liquor licences that may be applied for, reducing the current 25 types to a suggested six. Furthermore, it establishes exact procedures to apply for liquor licence and registration.

Burrows said the Liquor Licensing Authority would make restrictions on the days or hours of trade during the approval of specific licences. He said the legislation would strictly prohibit the sale of liquor to people under the age of 18 years, violent persons, drunk or disorderly people or those under the influence of a drug having a narcotic effect.

He also mentioned that Liquor Authority was required according to the draft legislation to advise the MEC responsible for liquor affairs in the province in establishing and implementing a social responsibility programme in respect of alcohol consumption. This would be done after consultation with the Department of Health.

Burrows urged the public to have a say in the process of drafting the new legislation in this regard.

“Many citizens are concerned with how the province deals with liquor licence applicants. I urge all stakeholders and interested parties to put their comments in writing as soon as possible. This is the change for the public to have their say,” he concluded. – I-Net Bridge

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