ANC condemns decision to relax liquor rules during its anniversary celebrations
Update, 11.50am: The Gauteng Liquor Board has decided it will no longer extend liquor trading hours during the ANC’s anniversary weekend.
“We have taken an approach to listen to the feedback of our key stakeholders and have decided that it is in the best interest of everyone that we revoke our decision to issue special dispensation liquor licenses for this coming weekend,” Pandelani said.
The ANC’s spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa, says the party condemns the decision by the Gauteng Liquor Board to extend the trading hours to sell alcohol during the ANC’s anniversary celebrations this weekend.
“The decision by the Gauteng Liquor board to extend trading hours has nothing to do with ANC. We condemn it.” Kodwa said. “Linking the extension of liquor trading hours with January 8 was malicious,” he added.
Kodwa was responding to outrage that the liquor authority had relaxed its rules for the ANC’s 105th birthday celebrations on January 8.
He said the ruling party had not applied for liquor trading hours to be extended and it had only become aware of the Gauteng Liquor Board’s decision when it was announced on Tuesday.
I can confirm the ANC didn’t apply https://t.co/y6iuU9Jgi5
— Zizi Kodwa (@zizikodwa) January 4, 2017
Kodwa’s response comes after the ANC Women’s League slammed the Gauteng Liquor Board on Tuesday evening, saying the decision to relax rules created a negative perception that the ANC birthday celebrations were simply an occasion to get drunk.
“We will not allow this historic event to be viewed as a drinking spree,” the league said.
The “special dispensation licences”
The liquor board announced on Tuesday that there would be “special dispensation licences”, essentially a weekend pass, for licensed alcohol traders for the ruling party’s birthday celebrations this weekend.
Gauteng’s provincial minister for economic development, agriculture, environment, and rural development, Lebogang Maile, welcomed the announcement, saying that after consulting the Gauteng Liquor Board she was satisfied that there was “legislative latitude” to relax liquor rules temporarily on “designated days”.
This is the first time the board has made such a decision since it came into being in 2003. Licensed traders who wish to extend their hours can apply for a permit at the board’s offices, which costs up to R900. Applicants, in return, must ensure their premises are gun-free and that noise levels do not disturb neighbours.
The board’s chairperson, Fhedzisani Pandelani, said the decision was not made in consultation with the ANC.
“We are the licensing authority. We were not responding to just what the ANC requires,” Pandelani said. “It is erroneous to say that this is geared towards the ANC. This is a resolution by the board itself, which says we need to respond to the demands of the market.”
The liquor board was not available to respond to the ANC’s criticism at the time of publishing.
The ANC celebrations will take place at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Sunday.